World Cup place tipped to spur social football leagues across Saudi Arabia

Dubai-based Duplays is expanding in Saudi Arabia as demand for corporate sports leagues grows. (Photo courtesy of Duplays)
Updated 08 September 2017
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World Cup place tipped to spur social football leagues across Saudi Arabia

LONDON: World Cup qualification for Saudi Arabia is set to drive demand for football leagues across the Kingdom, according to the co-founder of Dubai-based Duplays.
Duplays is close to opening its first sports facility in Jeddah in the form of an inflatable dome, with plans to add more in Riyadh and Dammam also under consideration.
The company was founded in 2007 to run sports leagues in Dubai and has grown to more than 100,0000 registered members playing sports including seven-a-side football, basketball, volleyball, netball and touch rugby.
Saudi Arabia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after beating Japan 1-0 in Jeddah on Tuesday, securing a place in the finals in Russia next year.
“That was incredible,” said Duplays co-founder Ravi Bhusari who is leading the company’s expansion in Saudi Arabia through a joint venture with Al-Hokair Group, the entertainment and hospitality conglomerate. “Football is already huge in the Kingdom but World Cup qualification is a big boon for us.”
The 38-year-old Canadian mechanical engineer, who spent 14 years of his youth in Jubail where his father worked as an engineer, believes investment in sport is set to take off in the Kingdom, spurred by the economic reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.
“The timing is great,” said Bhusari. “What we are doing aligns with the the Vision 2030 and getting more kids active.”
Bhusari believes the creation of the General Entertainment Authority in the Kingdom, with its focus on improving lifestyles, will also boost the development of sports leagues and encourage more women into sports.
Greater participation in sport is part of Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to transform the economy of the Kingdom as well as broader Saudi society.
“A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an essential mainstay of a high quality of life. Yet opportunities for the regular practice of sports have often been limited,” said the 86-page Saudi Vision 2030 report launched in April 2016. “This will change. We intend to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities, working in partnership with the private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities and programs.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education in July approved a physical education program at girls’ schools starting this year.


Saudi finance ministry closes book on March sukuk issuance — agency

Updated 26 March 2019
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Saudi finance ministry closes book on March sukuk issuance — agency

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s finance ministry has closed the book for investors seeking to take part in its March 2019 sukuk issuance program, which aims to raise 6.075 billion riyals ($1.62 billion), the Saudi press agency reported on Monday.
The sukuk are divided into two tranches of 10 and 15 years. The first tranche is for 2.395 billion riyals of 10-year bonds, and the second is for 3.680 billion riyals of 15-year bonds to mature by 2034.