Soccer bonanza: Saudi national league matches to be free-to-air

Saudi fans wave the national flag and chant during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah on October 11 2016 . (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2017
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Soccer bonanza: Saudi national league matches to be free-to-air

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ordered all the Kingdom’s football league matches be free-to-air, stressing that it is people’s right to watch the league at no cost.
Turki Al-Asheikh, head of the General Sports Authority and adviser at the Royal Court, said the crown prince has instructed the authority not to encrypt matches and deprive Saudis of watching their favorite teams playing.
“The crown prince directed that citizens should (be able to) watch the league for free and we are now looking for a mechanism that benefits all parties concerned: Sports clubs and carrier/broadcasters without affecting the people,” Al-Asheikh said in an interview on “Action Ya Dawry,” sports show.
“So the matches will be free. There may be some encryption for broadcasting the highest quality, exclusive programs, specific analysis studios and software services to benefit the sports club and the carrier/broadcaster, as well as the viewer who will benefit from these additional services,” he added.
Remarking on the crown prince’s involvement in the order, Al-Asheikh said: “Such a decision wouldn’t have been taken without his support.”
The decision came after several media outlets reported that the channels owning the league’s rights had decided to encrypt the league from the beginning of the next sports season.

The Saudi professional league had officially requested FIFA encode the league matches from August 2018 when the season starts.
The league made a joint request at its meeting requesting that the encryption of league matches was accelerated to help save clubs financially.
Meanwhile sport fans have inevitably reacted positively to the ruling, praising the Crown Prince.


Farasan Islands initiative launched to boost Saudi tourism

Updated 18 min 59 sec ago
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Farasan Islands initiative launched to boost Saudi tourism

JEDDAH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has unveiled an initiative to develop the Farasan Islands in Jazan and turn them into a unique tourist destination as part of Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program 2020.
The initiative seeks to take advantage of the distinct features of the islands, including their abundant coral reefs, captivating beaches, rich cultural heritage, pure waters, unique geographical location, mangrove forests, diverse marine species and rare animals and birds.
SCTH explained that the initiative includes plans for hotels, coastal resorts, marine activities, and recreational and heritage sites.
The initiative is expected to generate an annual revenue of SR531 million ($141 million), and attract 375,000 tourists per year to the islands.
1,760 hotel rooms will be made available and more than 6,200 jobs will be created.