World chess championship brings the best to Saudi Arabia

The world chess championship is taking place at the APEX Convention Center in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 29 December 2017
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World chess championship brings the best to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships, which is being held at the iconic APEX Convention Center in Riyadh, is adding an exciting new dimension to sports in Saudi Arabia.
Grandmasters from 55 countries are competing under supervision of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).
Organized by the Saudi General Sports Authority (GSA), the event opened on Tuesday and will conclude on Saturday.
The venue has been turned into an Arabian mirage, with traditional red Saudi textiles and coverings, and a Bedouin tent with pillows and floor settings.
Arabic coffee is continuously served to eager visitors.
Female chess players are not required to wear abayas, but have opted to wear black or navy suits.
“It’s a well-represented championship, with all continents participating,” FIDE referee Jamie Kenmure told Arab News, commending the “very good turnout at this first world chess event in Saudi Arabia.”
Russian champion Vladimir Fedoseev told Arab News: “The organization committee gave the players a very comfortable and good atmosphere. Saudi Arabia may not have a long chess history, but with this tournament it’s on its way.”
England grandmaster Nigel D. Short told Arab News: “It’s a superbly organized event with exceptional arrangements. The playing hall is awesome, the prize money is fantastic, and the organizer has extended warm hospitality.” The championship “will mark a golden moment for Saudi sports,” he said.
Ukrainian player Kuzubov Yuriy told Arab News: “The tournament is excellent and will be a huge success. Its organization has been perfect.”
When asked if he would like to compete in the Kingdom again, he said: “Yes of course, the organizers have provided excellent conditions for the players.”
Saudi player Afnan Hassan was thrilled to enter the tournament, saying: “I’ve played chess since I was very young, but it’s my first time competing in a world championship.”
The opening ceremony was attended by the GSA’s chairman, FIDE’s CEO and deputy president, and the presidents of the Asian Chess Federation, the Confederation of Chess for Americas, and the Saudi Arabia Chess Federation.


Saudi Arabia ‘racing into the future’ with Formula E

Updated 15 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia ‘racing into the future’ with Formula E

  • A first for Saudi Arabia and the region, the event’s magnitude reflects the Kingdom’s goal of hosting major events and promoting them domestically and globally
  • “This is unprecedented and fabulous,” one concert-goer said. Another said: “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia.” 

RIYADH: Formula E is one for the books. Attracting fans from all over the world, the mega event — held in the historic Saudi town of Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is set to revolutionize motorsports by using only electric race cars. 

Officially known as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the race expects to draw 40,000 attendees, with access not only to the race but also to the Kingdom’s largest ever festival for music, entertainment and cultural activities.

A first for Saudi Arabia and the region, the event’s magnitude reflects the Kingdom’s goal of hosting major events and promoting them domestically and globally.

A milestone was marked as Bandar Alesayi and Ahmed bin Khanen became the first Saudi I-Pace eTrophy racers, sponsored by the General Sports Authority (GSA). 

Both drivers predict increased grassroots support in the Kingdom for youths to train in carting and race-car driving.  

At 1.76 miles long with 21 corners, the track is somewhat tricky for first-time Formula E drivers.

“The system is like Mario Bros when they get the little star and go faster,” said Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. The new electric circuit in Saudi Arabia has been hailed as one of the best Formula E tracks.

The three-day event is hosting some of the world’s top singers, including Jason Derulo, Enrique Iglesias, Amr Diab, Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta and One Republic, along with DJ EJ. 

“This is unprecedented and fabulous,” one concert-goer said. Another said: “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia.” 

Outside the venue, Al-Bujairy, one of Ad Diriyah’s historic areas, hosts high-end restaurants, cafes and local designer outlets overlooking the historic district of At-Turaif, which was once home to the Saudi royal family and has newly opened for visitors.

Another area of interest is the Family Zone, with many events and activities to entertain all age groups. Men, women and children are given different driving experiences.

In Ad Diriyah’s Formula E, only one car is allowed per driver instead of two, making pit stops more crucial in terms of timing.  

“Attack mode” gives cars a temporary power boost from 200 to 225 kilowatts, equivalent to 268-302 horsepower. Drivers need to move to a certain area on the track to activate this mode.

“Saudi Arabia is racing into the future with Formula E, as we open the Kingdom to the world in a transformation that’s being supercharged by the Vision 2030 plan, driven forward by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority, told Arab News.