There is a big appetite for change, says Saudi sports authority chief

GSA Chairman Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal speaks at the Future Investment Forum in Riyadh. (AN photo)
Updated 01 November 2019

There is a big appetite for change, says Saudi sports authority chief


RIYADH:  Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority (GSA) has a venerable heritage dating back to 1974 — and it has come a long way since then.

In the past, the sports authority was heavily focused on Saudi football, but recently that has taken a swift turn and more activities have been added.

“We have two mandates in the 2030 vision. One is to increase participation in sport and the other is to achieve excellence within the sports we choose, and they both have to work parallel to each other. You can’t get one without the other,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the GSA’s board of directors.

“By that, we mean we are empowering federations to do more competitions and activities and to promote different kinds of sport in the Kingdom.

“I know in the past there was a focus on football but now by hosting these events we are actually showing the youth that there are other sports and how to learn from it and grow,” the prince added.

He said that one of the most remarkable changes he had seen in Saudi Arabia was the awareness that came with sports. “It’s the awareness of the community, of the people. They are aware of how important sport is, as well as being active.”

The Kingdom had a high level of obesity and type 2 diabetes which were often directly linked to a lack of exercise, but more people being active and participating in sport would help drive those figures down, Prince Abdul Aziz said.

In 2015, only 13 percent of Saudis took part in half-an-hour of sport, but the GSA aims to significantly increase that figure over the coming years.

Prince Abdul Aziz said there was “a big appetite toward that change. We are changing the country.”

But there were still gaps to be filled. “The gaps are the know-how, the experience, and train the trainer programs,” he added.

By hosting events the GSA aimed to raise awareness about the country’s sporting ambitions and the opportunities for individuals to take part in achieving the goals.

From a financial perspective, the sports sector contributed about 0.1 percent to GDP. The target was to make that 0.8 percent by 2030, said the prince. “That means that we are going to have 16 million people weekly active on a constant basis.”

The future of sport in the Kingdom involved “more infrastructure, more venues, more programs and more training,” he added.

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Updated 13 August 2020

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.