Crown Prince meets Disney CEO, discusses potential projects in Saudi Arabia 

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Updated 07 April 2018
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Crown Prince meets Disney CEO, discusses potential projects in Saudi Arabia 

  • Kingdom’s solid infrastructure and massive demand for entertainment highlighted 
  • LA meeting is part of Prince Mohammed’s ongoing US tour 

As part of his ongoing US tour, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met at his residence in Los Angeles with Robert Allen Iger,  chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. 
Potential cooperation in the entertainment, culture and film-making arenas were discussed during the meeting. Furthermore, the meeting highlighted the massive opportunities which exist in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where a solid infrastructure and a massive demand for Disney products and services exist. 
The meeting was attended by Prince Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington as well as members of the official delegation accompanying the crown prince. 
The crown prince also met with a group of heads of US entertainment and media companies and discussed areas of cooperation and partnership in the media and entertainment sectors, and reviewed the latest technologies in this regard.
Saudi Arabia has been undergoing a massive economic and social transformation under the ambitious Vision 2030 reform plan launched by the crown prince two years ago. 
Since then, the country has announced it is lifting the ban on women driving, that it will re-open cinemas and curbed the powers of its religious police. 
It has also established the General Authority for Entertainment, a government body empowered to meet the massive demand for entertainment in the Saudi kingdom; which boasts a population of 32 million and receives millions of Muslims every year for Hajj and Umra pilgrimage. 
The kingdom has also announced it is strengthening its non-religious tourism sector and has plans to issue new guidelines for visas which will open-up the country to visitors from around the world. 

 


Sporting glory: How Saudi Arabia raised its game

Updated 23 September 2019

Sporting glory: How Saudi Arabia raised its game

  • The groundwork for today’s success was laid in the 1970s

DUBAI: Many Saudis look back on the 1970s as a time of unprecedented development when sport, along with other aspects of life in the Kingdom, enjoyed rapid growth.

A government push to improve sports organization and boost participation in international competitions led to Saudi Arabia making its Olympic debut at the 1972 Munich Games. It marked the first time the Saudi flag was raised at the opening ceremony, although the Kingdom had been part of the International Olympic Committee since 1965. Saudi Arabia also participated in the first Arabian Gulf Cup in 1970,  and made its debut at the Pan Arab Games in 1976 and at the Asian Games two years later.

Also in the 1970s, the Kingdom attracted foreign players to its football teams, including Brazil’s Roberto Rivellino, who played for Riyadh’s Al-Hilal.

Mohammed Al-Kharashy, a former manager of the Saudi national football team, told Arab News that in the 1970s, “there was a lot of funding to improve sports facilities to the highest level. More focus was put on international participation in football and many other sports.”

Although sport was part of Saudi culture, its official development can be traced back to Interior Minister Prince Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Saud, who created the Department of Sport in the Interior in 1952.

OLYMPICS 1972

The first Saudis to represent the Kingdom at the Olympics

Men’s 100m Mansour Farhan Al-Gegd

Men’s 1,500m Naser Al-Safraa

Men’s 5,000m Abdallah Rouei Al-Mabrouk

Men’s 4 × 100m relay Mohammed Al-Dosary, Mansour Farhan Al-Gegd, Bilal Said, Saad Khalil Al-Dosary

Sporting development gained momentum with the introduction of the First Development Plan in 1970. A network of sports and athletics facilities was established along with recreational programs and sporting clubs for the Kingdom’s youth. These included federations for tennis, basketball, martial arts, handball, fencing, swimming, shooting and archery. The mandate of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare in 1974 was “to get as many people interested and involved in these activities as possible,” according to a statement published by the Saudi Embassy in the US.

While sporting standards in the Kingdom have improved dramatically, women’s participation is a more recent phenomenon. In 2003, the first women’s basketball team in Saudi Arabia was formed by Lina Al-Maeena. Three years later, she co-founded the Jeddah United Sporting Company, to encourage the development of female athletes; it now has a football club for women. In 2010, equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas became the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia to compete at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, winning a bronze medal.

Saudi Arabia sent its first women’s team to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. The team included Wojdan Shaherkani in judo and 800-meter runner Sarah Al-Attar. In 2016, Al-Attar, Lubna Al-Omair, Cariman Abu Al-Jadail and Wujud Fahmi represented Saudi Arabia at the Summer Games in Brazil.

In 2017, the Kingdom announced that public schools would begin offering physical education for girls as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms.