Future of sport in Saudi Arabia ‘depends on the public’

Princess Reema bint Bandar, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, responds to CNN anchor Becky Anderson during the event in Jeddah. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 30 April 2018
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Future of sport in Saudi Arabia ‘depends on the public’

  • The development of sport in the Kingdom requires a sustainable ecosystem that includes private-sector participation and the support of the population at large: Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal
  • Princess Reema said that the GSA plays an essential role not only encouraging people to have fun in sport but also to improving levels of health and well-being in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The development of sport in the Kingdom requires a sustainable ecosystem that includes private-sector participation and the support of the population at large, said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, deputy chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA).

The prince was speaking during an event at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City on Sunday.

The key discussion on harnessing the power of sports in the Kingdom was held as part of the opening celebration of the Royal Greens club. 

In a wide-ranging conversation, moderated by CNN anchor Becky Anderson, panelists including Princess Reema bin Bandar, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports; Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Maritime Sports and Diving Federation; and Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation. 

They were joined by world champion golfer Ernie Els and European Tour CEO Keith Pelley.

Prince Abdul Aziz praised the leaders of the federations for expanding the role of sport in Saudi Arabia.

Princess Reema said that the GSA plays an essential role not only encouraging people to have fun in sport but also to improving levels of health and well-being in the nation.

She encouraged the private sector to invest not just in new sports facilities but also in training academies, human capital development and other elements of the sporting ecosystem.

The forum also discussed the role of the private sector in developing sport in the Kingdom and agreed that while it has historically played an important role at a professional level, more could be done at a grassroots level to encourage people to take up a sport.

Prince Abdul Aziz said: “Vision 2030 is about catching up. We do not want to be caught out. This is why we have unlimited support from the king and the crown prince to move forward.”

The prince told Arab News: “We are aware of risks in terms of the spending on these federations. We do not recognize it as a loss. In my career in car racing, I raced under Bahrain’s flag. We want to have an umbrella for all sports so they can be played under the Saudi flag.”

Princes Reema said: “It is not only the actual games that we care about; we care about the tools sold, the shops around the playground and all other cultural and economical factors related to them.”


King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias performs at the launch of a three-day festival of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday in Ad Diriyah, near Riyadh. (Twitter)
Updated 14 December 2018
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King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

  • Enrique Iglesias took the stage in an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah
  • The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical

RIYADH: Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias launched a three-day festival  of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday with a stunning concert at an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah.

The king of Latin pop took the stage by storm and stole the hearts of thousands in the crowd, whose screams could be heard from a long way away. “I love you Enrique,” a group of girls in the audience shouted.

As he waved his hand back and forth in the air, the crowd started doing the same while jumping up and down. The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical. 

No theatrics were excluded as displays of fireworks and lasers wowed the audience. The singer asked the crowd if they spoke Spanish, and everyone screamed “Yes.”

While stage smoke poured into the arena a female performer sang a duet with Iglesias, who then delighted the crowd with some impromptu salsa dancing in front of the stage.

Fans waved their uplifted phones with their screens and flashes along with the music, while others tried to capture the performance.

“You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape my love,” sang Iglesias while the crowd screamed.

Earlier the R&B singer, songwriter and dancer Jason Derulo persuaded the crowd to put on their dancing shoes with an energetic set.

“Saudi, whassup! This is a dream come true for me! Since we are in Saudi Arabia I want to do things a little different,” he told the audience. He said his mother taught him to never visit empty handed, so his gift to Saudi Arabia was the debut performance of a new song.

Thursday’s entertainment will be followed on Friday by shows from Arab music star Amr Diab and the Black Eyed Peas. The climax of the festival comes on Saturday with the Saudia Ad Diriyah Formula E Grand Prix motor race, followed by headline performances by OneRepublic and the megastar DJ/producer David Guetta.