World Cup place tipped to spur social football leagues across Saudi Arabia

Dubai-based Duplays is expanding in Saudi Arabia as demand for corporate sports leagues grows. (Photo courtesy of Duplays)
Updated 08 September 2017

World Cup place tipped to spur social football leagues across Saudi Arabia

LONDON: World Cup qualification for Saudi Arabia is set to drive demand for football leagues across the Kingdom, according to the co-founder of Dubai-based Duplays.
Duplays is close to opening its first sports facility in Jeddah in the form of an inflatable dome, with plans to add more in Riyadh and Dammam also under consideration.
The company was founded in 2007 to run sports leagues in Dubai and has grown to more than 100,0000 registered members playing sports including seven-a-side football, basketball, volleyball, netball and touch rugby.
Saudi Arabia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after beating Japan 1-0 in Jeddah on Tuesday, securing a place in the finals in Russia next year.
“That was incredible,” said Duplays co-founder Ravi Bhusari who is leading the company’s expansion in Saudi Arabia through a joint venture with Al-Hokair Group, the entertainment and hospitality conglomerate. “Football is already huge in the Kingdom but World Cup qualification is a big boon for us.”
The 38-year-old Canadian mechanical engineer, who spent 14 years of his youth in Jubail where his father worked as an engineer, believes investment in sport is set to take off in the Kingdom, spurred by the economic reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.
“The timing is great,” said Bhusari. “What we are doing aligns with the the Vision 2030 and getting more kids active.”
Bhusari believes the creation of the General Entertainment Authority in the Kingdom, with its focus on improving lifestyles, will also boost the development of sports leagues and encourage more women into sports.
Greater participation in sport is part of Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to transform the economy of the Kingdom as well as broader Saudi society.
“A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an essential mainstay of a high quality of life. Yet opportunities for the regular practice of sports have often been limited,” said the 86-page Saudi Vision 2030 report launched in April 2016. “This will change. We intend to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities, working in partnership with the private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities and programs.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education in July approved a physical education program at girls’ schools starting this year.

IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

Updated 20 February 2020

IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

  • IMF team will provide broad technical advice
  • Lebanon has not requested IMF financial assistance

BEIRUT: A team of IMF experts met Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday at the start of a visit to provide Lebanon with advice on tackling a deepening financial and economic crisis, an official Lebanese source said.

The IMF has said the team will visit until Feb. 23 and provide broad technical advice. Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the Fund.

The long-brewing economic crisis spiraled last year as capital flows into the country slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite over decades of corruption and bad governance.

Diab’s government, which took office last month, must decide what to do about upcoming debt payments, notably a $1.2 billion dollar-denominated sovereign bond due on March 9.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun meanwhile said on Thursday measures would be taken to hold to account all those who contributed to Lebanon’s financial crisis through illegal actions be they transfers abroad, manipulation of Eurobonds or other acts.

“There is information that we are still in need of with regards to the banking situation. There are measures that we will take to hold to account all who participated in bringing the crisis to where it is,” Aoun said, according to his Twitter account.


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One of Lebanon’s most influential politicians, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, said on Wednesday that debt restructuring was the best solution for looming maturities.

Lebanon will on Friday review proposals from firms bidding to give it financial and legal advice on its options, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The government aims to take a quick decision on who to appoint, the source said.

So far, firms bidding to be Lebanon’s legal adviser are Dechert, Cleary Gottlieb, and White and Case, the source said.

Lebanon has issued requests for proposals to seven firms to provide it with financial advice.

The government on Wednesday formed a committee tasked with preparing an economic recovery plan that includes ministers, government officials, a central bank representative and economists, according to a copy of a decree seen by Reuters.