First Saudi female hockey team needs a license to succeed

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Hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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(AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The female hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The female hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The female hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The female hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The female hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old girl. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 30 October 2018

First Saudi female hockey team needs a license to succeed

  • The hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old, Tolay Ahmad, who has been skating for two years
  • Once the team receives their license from the GSA, they will have the chance to participate in tournaments at regional and global levels

JEDDAH: Girls in the city are seeking a license from the General Sport Authority (GSA) to play for what could be called the first Saudi hockey team.
A Jeddah ice sports club was behind the female hockey team, which was united with a male ice-skating team to become the first male and female hockey team in the Kingdom.
The hockey team is led by the professional ice slider duo Sultan Salama and Mohammed Bahamdeen, who started their journey in ice skating 18 years ago when the Ice Land Amusement Center was first opened in Jeddah.
What makes the concept of a Saudi hockey team special is that this game originates and was played in Canada for hundreds of years before other countries modernized it.
The hockey team is still trying to be officially registered by the GSA as they are seeking a license for the title of “The first Saudi hockey team.”
The ladies’ club, which consists of more than 80 players, started training in a group of ski halls under the supervision of Sultan Salama. The sport on ice enjoys a wide global audience and is accepted by many young people, including girls, nowadays.
The males-only team was established in 2003. Having started with 30 members, they won the first local hockey championship in 2004, and in 2010 they took third place in the GCC hockey championship.
Bahamdeen told Arab News: “From 2011 to 2017 we did not have enough support to develop the team, but we made an effort to add more to the concept of the game, and this year we were surprised by the huge number of members, which reached 180.
“One of the biggest struggles is affording a full uniform for each member. It costs over SR2,500 ($666) and some members find it really expensive.”
A championship will be held in January next year at Al-Shallal Theme Park and will include 12 female teams and 12 male. Bahamdeen said: “We receive many invitations to participate in hockey and other ice games in Bahrain and the UAE but we cannot go as we need to get the license from the GSA first, and hopefully we will have it done soon.
“We will make sure we have a well-equipped ice skating rink,” he concluded. “The success we have today came after a long path of struggle, and I look forward to taking our teams to an international level.”
The hockey team includes all ages and the youngest member is a 10-year-old, Tolay Ahmad, who has been skating for two years. She said: “I come to ski here every weekend and I feel so happy to be a member of the female hockey team.”
Albandari, 18, one of the most skilled players on the team, said: ”I have been passionate about skiing since I was eight and now, after establishing the Saudi female hockey team, I believe that there is a chance for me and my team to excel at both regional and global levels.”
Once the team receives their license from the GSA, they will have the chance to participate in tournaments at regional and global levels. Albandari added: “Practicing for such games in a specialized way contributes to the development of players. I have been pleased to be a member of the team and with a group that is keen to train and master the sport.”
“We have been practicing at this sport for a while. We have gained the skills, and with the presence of experts such as captains Salama and Bahamdeen, we will learn more.”


Saudi Arabia's envoy to UK: We won’t allow Iran to meddle in region 

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia's envoy to UK: We won’t allow Iran to meddle in region 

  • “You cannot give in to a country like Iran because they will see it as a sign of weakness,” Prince Khalid said
  • The ambassador encouraged people to visit his country before forming an opinion of it

LONDON: Riyadh does not seek conflict with Tehran but will not let “Iran’s meddling in the region” go unchecked, said the Saudi ambassador to Britain. 
“We do not seek conflict. We do not seek escalation. We have always been supporters of taking a firm stand against Iran. Our issue is not with the people of Iran, it is with the regime running the country,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan told the Daily Telegraph. 
“But we do not believe in appeasement. At no point in history has appeasement proved to be a successful strategy. You cannot give in to a country like Iran because they will see it as a sign of weakness.”
France, Germany and the UK, three of the signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), triggered a “dispute resolution mechanism” recently in response to Iran ramping up its nuclear program in violation of the deal.
Prince Khalid criticized the JCPOA because it does not address “all the other things that Iran” is doing in the region.
“Iran’s meddling in the region is as challenging as the nuclear program. This is why we were concerned with the nuclear deal,” he said.
The ambassador also touched on recent allegations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in hacking the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
“It is very easy for people to throw these unsubstantiated allegations against Saudi Arabia because they know that it is very difficult for Riyadh to defend itself when it does not have proper access to the details,” Prince Khalid said.
“We need to see the evidence before we make any response, because the evidence made public so far is circumstantial at best.”
Saudis do not always represent themselves well because they are “a reticent people and our culture does not push us to talking about ourselves,” he said. “We need to do a better job on showing the world who we really are.” 
The ambassador, who was appointed last year, encouraged people to visit his country before forming an opinion of it. 
“There are a lot of misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. We want people to come and see Saudi Arabia for themselves, and not rely on what they have read somewhere or heard somewhere to form their opinion of the country,” he said.
“There is plenty to see, and you will find a warm, generous and hospitable people there waiting to greet you.”