CAMBRIDGE, UK: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge led his team to victory in a friendly polo match at one of England’s oldest sporting grounds as Saudi and British royals joined international business and social leaders for the BMG Foundation’s 22nd annual charitable GCC Polo Cup, held in partnership with Arab News.
The match, played out in front of cheering crowds at the Cambridge County Polo Club, is considered the oldest joint Saudi-British charitable social and diplomatic event. In the past, royal family members from both countries, including King Salman and Queen Elizabeth, have taken part.
Prince William led the host team, BMG Financial, to a 10-8 victory in the annual charity match. The event traditionally marks the culmination of the two-day BMG Summer Retreat, which this year included the BMG Economic Forum at the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
“The game was very exciting,” said Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini, founder of the BMG Foundation, the Saudi-based BMG Financial Group’s philanthropic arm. “It had the highest amount of goals in a match in the event’s history, and Prince William and Saudi polo star Amr Zedan played very well.
“We had a great atmosphere, great weather and great feeling among all the visitors. It was one of the best in the event’s history,” Al-Ghalayini said.
Every summer, members of the European and Middle Eastern royal families join industry, political and business leaders and celebrities at the charitable equestrian event, with proceeds donated to global environmental and humanitarian causes.
The BMG Financial team, led by Prince William, with John Steven Ziegler, Jaime Huidobro and Saudi star Amr Zedan, took on a Cambridge County Polo Club team led by Charlie Wright, with Hugo Taylor, Hissam Ali Hyder and Jasper Upton.
Princess Noor Bint Asem, Zedan’s wife, watched from the sidelines as her husband scored six goals during the Saudi team’s victory.
“He did a great job playing today,” she said. “I am very proud of him, as always.”
Majid Alghaslan, chairman and CEO of Front End and a board member of the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation, traveled to attend the GCC Polo Cup.
“I attended the BMG Economic Forum on Wednesday, a key event to attract investment into Saudi Arabia. It really showed how Saudi is open for business. And the UK, more than any other country, is a very important partner,” he said. “Today, the polo was a perfect way to round off the BMG Summer Retreat, which also coincides with the formation of the Saudi Polo Federation which was launched last week.”
Businessman Alper Apaydin was among the guests who soaked up the sunshine at the finale to the two-day BMG Summer Retreat.
“This was an excellent way of highlighting the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK,” said Apaydin, who is returning to the event for the third year.
The annual equestrian gathering focuses on building business, social and philanthropic networks between influential business leaders in the East and West. The charitable event supports several charities of the Duke of Cambridge and awareness campaigns of the BMG Foundation.
Al-Ghalayini said that in the past 22 years the GCC Polo Cup had raised millions of pounds for the world’s needy.
Al-Ghalayini extended his thanks to Arab News, the official media partner of the event for the first time, and its Editor-in-Chief, Faisal J. Abbas.
“Arab News kindly agreed to partner with both the BMG Economic Forum and the BMG Foundation Polo Cup’s culture, sports and charity day. We thank Arab News for this partnership, one that will hopefully continue for years to come.”
As well as its charitable mission, a key aim of the event is to promote the sport of polo in Saudi Arabia and bring international tournaments to the Kingdom.