Saudi students in the US host football ‘friendly’ to celebrate crown prince’s visit

Saudi and American players at a football friendly on Monday. (AN photo)
Updated 30 March 2018
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Saudi students in the US host football ‘friendly’ to celebrate crown prince’s visit

LONDON/ NEW YORK: A team of international students from Saudi Arabia played their American counterparts in a specially arranged football match to mark the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the US.
Eyas Zakri, a 22-year-old from Jeddah who is studying mass communications at Bowie State University, founded the “Kingdom” team last year with students studying at several universities in Virginia. But Monday’s friendly game, which ended in a 3-3 draw, was their most significant match yet.
The initiative is supported by Jeddah United as part of sports diplomacy in light of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the US, reinforcing the Saudi-American relations through the universal language of sports.
“We wanted to appreciate the visit of our crown prince,” Zakri told Arab News. “We are all students here and we wanted to show him our happiness about his visit through the language of sport.
“When you see someone really wanting to raise our flag high, you do whatever you can to help him. It was important we played this game.”
Zakri said the crown prince’s visit had been the talk of the team for weeks.
“We are really happy,” he said. “For sure, it’s big news. When he came here, a lot of things came with him. They are helping the students and taking care of their needs. He is going to personally see the students in California. It’s historic. The visit will make a lot of opportunities for us back home.”
Zakri said he will return to Saudi Arabia after he completes his master’s to pursue a Ph.D. On his return, he will find his homeland undergoing vast changes driven by the crown prince.
“There is a lot of opportunities,” Zakri said. “The crown prince knows exactly what to do for young people. He has shown us we need to be working hard, and that we can’t just take a small job and wait for a rest.
“He has made a lot of changes already. The first thing we are happy about is that he stopped the corruption inside the government. He has made changes to the economy, to sports and in a lot of fields. We hope Vision 2030 happens and we become one of the leading countries in the world.”
Sport forms a big part of the reforms taking place in the Kingdom. Major events, such as the World Boxing Super Series final and a European tour golf event, are being hosted, as the country opens its doors and broadens its appeal, while restrictions on women watching and playing sport have been lifted.
“We are expecting a lot of changes, and are already hearing about the agreements the crown prince has made,” said Zakri. “There will be a lot of stadiums opening by the end of 2018 in the north of Saudi Arabia. Also, I really want to get back so I can see the excitement of the Saudi people for the World Cup.”
Princess Reema bint Bandar, head of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, is using sport to help drive the Kingdom’s economic growth via a “sports ecosystem” throughout the country.
“We really want to meet her,” said Zakri. “This is a big position for a woman and she really did a beautiful job. She knows what she is doing and she understands. She knows what happens in sport and has been involved in sport for a long time. It’s a passion for her. One of my dreams is to meet this woman to let her know about our team.”
The Kingdom team was set up with just four players — now more than 50 Saudi students attend practice.
“We have a rule that they have to be a good player and well behaved,” said Zakri.
“Sometimes we play four times a week. We made a lot of tournaments for international students and we play in two leagues here. We have a game on Sunday and the finals will be on Saturday, April 7. It’s going to be a big final.”


13,230 families benefit from ‘Sakani’ program in Saudi Arabia

More than 157,000 families benefited from the program during 2018. (SPA)
Updated 17 June 2019
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13,230 families benefit from ‘Sakani’ program in Saudi Arabia

  • More than 157,000 families benefited from the program during 2018

RIYADH: The Ministry of Housing’s “Sakani” program has helped 13,230 families registered on its Real Estate Development Fund list with housing options and finance solutions during May.
This includes 5,835 families who live in their own homes, bringing the total number of families benefiting from the program in different regions of the Kingdom since the start of the year to 68,195.
The Sakani program announced the names of beneficiaries and their national ID numbers through the link https://sakani-names.housing.sa or via the program portal.
More than 157,000 families benefited from the program during 2018.
Ministry of Housing spokesman Saif Al-Suwailem said that Sakani continues to provide its services to beneficiaries according to their needs and abilities. The ministry is keen to provide better services in line with the “Eskan” program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives that aims to raise the proportion of residential ownership to 70 percent by 2030.
As part of Sakani’s efforts to provide suitable housing options, the program began to implement 53 new housing projects in different regions of the Kingdom, characterized by affordable prices for a large segment of citizens registered on the lists of the Ministry of Housing.
Al-Suwailem said that the ministry was keen to find solutions for Saudi families that help them to own the right home for them. SPA Riyadh