World boxing champ Amir Khan eyes Saudi Arabia for new academy

Amir Khan said he believed there was a lot of talent in Saudi Arabia. (Screen grab)
Updated 17 November 2018
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World boxing champ Amir Khan eyes Saudi Arabia for new academy

  • The former boxing world champion said there were a lot of warriors in Saudi Arabia
  • Khan said he believes the Kingdom possesses a lot of talent

RIYADH: British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan wants to open a boxing academy in Saudi Arabia, and hopes the Kingdom will see rising stars become Olympic champions soon.

Speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday, he said the only way to achieve this was by opening academies in the Kingdom.  

“I believe that there is so much talent in Saudi, but there aren’t many boxing clubs,” he said.

Speaking at the midday session of the forum in a session titled “What Defines Me,” Khan said he believed there was a reason Saudis are good boxers: “Maybe it is in their blood – they are warriors.”

The former world champion and Olympic medalist, arrived on stage at the event wearing traditional Saudi clothes, both the thobe and shomakh, and was interviewed by Lubna Al-Omair, the first Saudi female Olympic fencer.

Khan has a charitable foundation in his name that is dedicated to empowering disadvantaged young people globally.

IN PICTURES: View the Third annual Misk Global Forum in Riyadh photo gallery

“All around the world I build boxing academies, (including in) England, Pakistan,” he said. “It is a way to give back and help the less fortunate. We travel all around the world to help the poor, the youth ... in the future they will do the same.”

Khan credited his father for placing him in a boxing club. “When I was young, I was hyperactive, always misbehaving, and my father took me to the boxing club. Boxing gave me discipline.”  

And he credited fans for his motivation, explaining: “At 17 I became a household name and couldn’t walk the streets without people stopping me for a picture. People are looking up to me and wanting me to succeed, and that was my motivation.”

Khan said boxing helps develop self-discipline and emotional intelligence. “Boxing teaches you to be disciplined,” he said.

“What boxing teaches you is not to fight outside. If a fight is taking place, I walk away.”

Khan also had advice for athletes in training: “The harder you work in the gym, the easier it will be in the game,” he said.

And he added: “Work hard and never give up. I always like to work harder than my opponents.”  


Saudi startups win big with business incubator Oqal

The latest initiatives come amid efforts to increase the contribution of SMEs to the gross domestic product. (Shutterstock)
Updated 2 min 59 sec ago
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Saudi startups win big with business incubator Oqal

  • Currently, financial institutions only provide a 5 percent rate of funding to startups
  • SMEs in the Kingdom continue to bear the brunt of complex administrative procedures and funding challenges

RIYADH: An up-and-coming Saudi business incubator recently launched a new incentive program aimed at keeping the young and budding entrepreneurs it supports and advises focused “on the prize.”
Oqal, which merges the Arabic word “aqel” (mind) with the Arabic word “amwal” (financial resources), helps youth with business plans and capital make the most of their resources by creating economically viable startups.
The jury on the panel of this latest competition, which was for the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, narrowed down 10 emerging projects to three finalists. Five Saudi judges with experience in the business sector were tasked with selecting the finalists.
Educa, an education-related initiative, won SR50,000 ($13,329) and a car. Qosoor, which rents out wedding and events venues, also won SR50,000. The third-place prize went to a real estate valuation company, which won SR25,000. The winners will also have their businesses accredited.
Since its inception in 2011, Oqal, a not-for-profit online platform, has helped foster the talent and resources of more than 50 entrepreneurs whose companies are now thriving in the Saudi market.
Oqal is working with Monsha’at, Arabic for startups, a government initiative attempting to empower small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to contribute more significantly to the country’s national economy.
“These prizes are a motivating tool and big form of exposure for these businesses, which will need to keep up momentum on this huge initial boost,” said Yaser Al-Ahmed, one of the judges on the panel.
“These businesses will continue to be guided by Monsha’at, which recently announced that the financial pledges made by young owners will be matched by other high-net-worth individuals in order to encourage future investments in startups.”
The latest initiatives come amid efforts to increase the contribution of SMEs to the gross domestic product (GDP). SMEs only account for 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP, a weak figure compared with first world countries, some of which enjoy an up to 70 percent SME contribution rate.
SMEs in the Kingdom continue to bear the brunt of complex administrative procedures and funding challenges. Currently, financial institutions only provide a 5 percent rate of funding to startups. Monsha’at is trying to increase funding to 20 percent by 2030.
The authority responsible for SME performance is reviewing cumbersome regulations and increasing access to finance methods, as well as introducing more business incubators and helping local businesses export their products.