Saudi polo team seals historic cup victory — with a little regal help

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Prince William (far right) and Amr Zedan (second from left) at the Cambridge polo friendly. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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Prince William, right, was the center of attention during a charity polo game at the Cambridge County Polo Club on Thursday. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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Teams receive special plaques. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Saudi polo team seals historic cup victory — with a little regal help

  • The Duke of Cambridge leads the way as a BMG Financial squad takes the honors in the 22nd annual GCC Polo Cup
  • 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.

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.


Saudi Arabian Military Industries to build five corvettes with Spain’s Navantia

Updated 36 min 29 sec ago
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Saudi Arabian Military Industries to build five corvettes with Spain’s Navantia

  • The program will start this autumn with the last unit to be delivered by 2022
  • The contract will generate 6,000 direct and indirect jobs for five years

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has announced the signature of a Joint Venture (JV) Agreement for the design and construction of five Avante 2200 corvettes with the Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company Navantia. The program will start this autumn with the last unit to be delivered by 2022.
In line with the contract, Navantia and SAMI have agreed on the establishment of a JV in Saudi Arabia, which will provide an exceptional opportunity to consolidate the position of the integrated systems and technologically advanced solutions provided by Navantia in the Saudi market and area of influence, perfectly aligned with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 by localizing 50% of the total military spending by 2030.
The contract will generate 6,000 direct and indirect jobs for five years, as follows: 1,100 direct jobs, more than 1,800 from the auxiliary industry, and more than 3,000 indirect jobs generated by other suppliers.
In this respect, the JV will focus on program management and combat system integration and installation, system engineering, system architecture, hardware design, software development, testing and verification, prototyping, simulation, modelling, and through-life support.
Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Chairman of Saudi Arabian Military Industries, said: “SAMI remains committed to being a key enabler of the Saudi Vision 2030, and the establishment of this Joint Venture with Navantia will localize more than 60% of ship combat systems work including, installation, and integration, which contribute to the Kingdom’s objective to be at the forefront of shaping the local military industries ecosystem. We will continue to explore collaborations and leverage partnerships that meet our key mandate to localize more than half of the Kingdom’s total military spending.”
Esteban Garcia Vilasanchez, Chairman of Navantia, said: “Navantia is very happy with the signature of this contract that means a starting point for the collaboration with Saudi Arabia. Navantia is committed to contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and will support the country in this endeavour. The JV between SAMI and Navantia is an opportunity to develop capabilities in the country and jointly explore future opportunities.”
For the Avante 2200 contract, the JV will be responsible, among others, of supplying the Combat System of all five ships. Corvettes 4th and 5th will be finalized and delivered to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the JV will do the installation, integration and test of the complete Combat System.