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.


FaceOf: Dalma Rushdi Malhas, Saudi equestrian

Updated 16 min 45 sec ago
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FaceOf: Dalma Rushdi Malhas, Saudi equestrian

  • Malhas is the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia to compete at an Olympic-level event
  • Malhas has been riding since she was four

Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas is the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia to compete at an Olympic-level event. She rode at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore, winning a bronze medal.

She was born in 1992 in Ohio, US. Her mother, Arwa Mutabagani, is also a prominent equestrian. Mutabagani has been a board member at the Saudi Equestrian Federation since 2008, and was the first female appointed to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee in 2008.

Malhas has been riding since she was four. At 12 she moved with her mother from Saudi Arabia to Rome to train with her under Italy’s former showjumping national coach, Duccio Bartalucci.

After spending a few years in Rome and obtaining her International Baccalaureate, she moved to join a two-year professional training program at the Forsan Equestrian Center in Chantilly, France.

She participated in Singapore in the 14-18 age group, becoming only the third Saudi Arabian athlete to land an Olympic medal, winning bronze.

After she participated in several competitions abroad, the International Olympic Committee invited her to represent Saudi Arabia.

However, she was disqualified from the Games for failing to meet the minimum eligibility standards, according to the International Equestrian Federation. Also, Caramell KS, Malhas’ horse, suffered an injury in May 2012 and was not expected to recover for the Games in London. 

Malhas participated in the Horse Hurdles Individuals category at the World Equestrian Championships in the US city of Tryon, North Carolina, on Wednesday, alongside more than 60 female equestrians from all over the world.