Saudi basketball team takes diplomatic approach to sport

Ready, set, go: Lina Al-Maeena with Ambassador Dominique Mineur of Belguim. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Updated 07 February 2019

Saudi basketball team takes diplomatic approach to sport

  • The new sports project was launched in the city’s Diplomatic Quarter by co-founder of Riyadh United Basketball team Lina Al-Maeena together with the Belgium Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dominique Mineur.

RIYADH: A Saudi basketball team has netted a sporting entente cordiale with the capital’s diplomatic community.

Riyadh United players are to take part in a unique initiative aimed at encouraging more men and women in the Kingdom to participate in sport, while also strengthening international relations.

The new sports project was launched in the city’s Diplomatic Quarter by co-founder of Riyadh United Basketball team Lina Al-Maeena together with the Belgium Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dominique Mineur.

Al-Maeena said the idea behind the scheme was to promote the message of peace and understanding between nations through sport, with regular basketball games between the Saudi diplomatic community and Riyadh teams.

“We believe in the language of sport,” she said. “This initiative allows us to link with the international community in Saudi Arabia while also doing something healthy and beneficial for our minds, bodies, and our country.”

Mineur said: “Sport is essential for the well-being of everyone and I hope that this will generate similar initiatives.”

Al-Maeena hopes that more Saudi women will take up sport and help promote the message of peace.

She pointed to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan as playing a key role in encouraging people to engage in sport. The country aims to increase the population’s sports participation from 13 percent to 40 percent by 2030.

“I believe that this initiative will blossom and flourish in a way we never anticipated,” Al-Maeena added. 

The launch was held on the basketball courts at King Faisal School, which has joined in the venture. 

Principal of the girls’ school Sadeem Al-Qadi said they were looking forward to playing an active role in the program. 

Vision 2030 has already brought about many changes in Saudi culture, including sport for women. Only recently, physical education was reintroduced for girls in Saudi schools after a long absence. 


Saudi Arabia's Qiddiya reveals giant mountainside projection

Updated 7 min 52 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's Qiddiya reveals giant mountainside projection

  • QIC’s outdoor display, which uses 84 projectors, was showcased in a three-minute video

RIYADH: The Tuwaiq mountains provide the dramatic backdrop for a new giant digital display from the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC).

Qiddiya, located 40 km west of Riyadh, is referred to as Saudi Arabia’s future “capital of entertainment, sports and the arts,” and QIC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

QIC’s outdoor display, which uses 84 projectors, was showcased in a three-minute video that tells the evolution of the mountains from the ice age right through to the scheduled opening of the Qiddiya project in 2023.

“We received a great reaction when we first used projection to illustrate the potential of Qiddiya at our groundbreaking ceremony,” said Qiddiya CEO Michael Reininger. 

“This inspired us to create an enhanced and sophisticated light show that uses the latest audio-visual technology that, once again, highlights how Qiddiya is set to become the Kingdom’s capital of entertainment, sports and the arts. The projection display will continue to illuminate the skies above Qiddiya and we hope to work with other Saudi entities to explore how best to use this valuable tool in the future for mutually beneficial purposes.”

FASTFACT

Display covers 32,000 square meters.

The digital display was used at the closing ceremony for the 2020 Dakar Rally to see how it worked under real-event conditions and featured a 150-meter- high Qiddiya logo. 

It was used to unveil the G20 logo in December last year, interspersed with images of the Saudi flag, profiles of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the chairman of the board of directors of Qiddiya.

The entire display covers approximately 32,000 square meters and, over the last four months, a team of more than 80 technicians have worked around the clock to install the technology.    

Saudis spend $30 billion on tourism abroad every year. By providing new entertainment options for citizens and residents in the Kingdom, the Qiddiya project aims to redirect some of the overseas tourism spending back into Saudi Arabia.

This goal also supports the Vision 2030 objective to increase spending within the Kingdom on culture and entertainment activities, from about 3 percent of household income to 6 percent.