Saudi princess appointed to oversee women’s sports sector

Princess Reema — Honored to serve Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Updated 02 August 2016
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Saudi princess appointed to oversee women’s sports sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet appointed a prominent princess to head a new department for women under the Kingdom’s General Authority for Sports in a move that could signal greater female access to sports.
The announcement, made after the weekly Cabinet session Monday evening, offered no details about Princess Reema bin Bandar’s role.
“I am honored to serve my nation,” SPA quoted Princess Reema as saying.
The Kingdom is sending four female athletes to the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, marking the second time that Saudi women will participate in the Olympics.
These sportswomen include marathon runner Sarah Al-Attar, judoka Wujud Fahmi, fencer Lubna Al-Omair and 100m runner Cariman Abu Al-Jadail.
Both Attar and Fahmi were returning to the Games after they became the country’s first female Olympians in London four years ago.
In a first in 2014, a Saudi state school introduced sports for girls, after a call for lifting a ban on women in sports.
The General Authority for Sports’ website lists no details about its activities or mission. A separate government portal shows the agency is responsible for issuing licenses to establish new sports centers and handles youth registration in sports.
In a decree in May, King Salman ordered the General Presidency for Youth Welfare to be renamed the General Authority for Sports. The former body had sponsored cultural and sports activities for youth.
In April last year, the king sacked the most senior woman in government, Nora Al-Fayez, from her post as deputy education minister for girls. She was strongly pushing to try to get physical education on the curriculum for girls in public schools.
Princess Reema, whose father Prince Bandar bin Sultan served as Saudi ambassador to Washington for more than two decades until 2005, is a graduate of George Washington University with a degree specializing in museum studies, Islamic art and architecture. In the Kingdom, she is widely known for having served as chief executive officer of the upscale Harvey Nichols department store in the capital, Riyadh, which was among the first retailers to hire women as sales clerks.


‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 15 December 2018
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‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

LONDON: Felipe Massa has acknowledged the possibility of Formula E becoming more popular than its more illustrious rival Formula One, ahead of his debut at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia today.
The Brazilian ace swapped the roaring engines of F1 for the blistering battery power of Formula E this season, and told Arab News that the idea was not “impossible.”
“On overtaking, Formula 1, that’s a difficult question to answer. But what can I say, is that it’s not impossible. We just need to wait and see how things go, (whether) it is ‘when’ or ‘if,’ but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said.
“Formula E and electric cars are becoming ever-more present, but it will definitely be the future, even in the short-term future.
“It (the technology) has already arrived in some countries and will in other countries, too, it is the future. I think Formula E has used that mentality, even five years ago to build this (motorsport) category,” he added.
Massa, who raced for 15 seasons in Formula One and won 11 grands prix, was also positive about the potential of Formula E as it continues to expand after its inception in 2011 and inaugural season in 2014.
“It will take a little bit of time, it’s not easy to get things perfect straight away, but look at the past two years and how much the championship is growing.
“When I say growing, it’s not just with the quality of the drivers, but also with manufacturers’ teams and companies, who are really getting behind the sport.
“Look how many companies they are signing on as sponsors, on many different levels, even companies that sell fuel,” he said.
“We are even racing (this weekend) in a country known as an oil country. So, I think this shows how much this championship is growing.”
Massa also agreed with comments made by F1 director Ross Brawn, who recently said that the highest level of motorsport had become too predictable.
“Only certain racers can win in Formula One, but Formula E is unpredictable and a good example (of that) is that the winners in all past seasons have been different drivers,” he told Arab News.
The affable driver said he is relishing the new challenge that Formula E will pose to his skills and abilities, adding that with the exception of certain parts of the Monaco and Mexico circuits, each track will be new to him.
“I like a challenge, there is a lot to learn and a lot to test myself with and learning the car, working with the team,” he said.
“Even though I’m experienced in motorsport, with my 16 years in Formula One, this is a new test and I will have to start from zero.”
Meanwhile, defending Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said hearing the words “world champion” after his name was “still cool.”
When asked about the challenge from teammate Andre Lotterer on the other side of the Techeetah garage, the Frenchman was full of praise for the German driver.
“He is absolutely one of the most talented drivers, and I expect him to be on the same level as I am and, for sure, it’s going to be a nice competition between us.
“It will be good for the team, as that will push everybody, and that is what we want as a team.”
The former F1 driver was complimentary about Formula E’s new “attack mode,” but voiced concerns about the danger the system posed to drivers on corners on the challenging Ad Diriyah circuit this weekend.