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.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.