Golf has big future in Saudi Arabia, says Prince Khalid

Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal during the 5th Saudi Open in Riyadh in November last year. (Photo courtesy: Noel A. Alipoyo)
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Updated 27 January 2020

Golf has big future in Saudi Arabia, says Prince Khalid

  • ‘There are many opportunities for Saudis to have a career in the golf industry’

JEDDAH: Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal has been visible in golf for as long as anyone can remember — even more so now in his role as adviser to the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Arab News caught up with Prince Khalid on Saturday, and the lifelong golfer with a single-digit handicap talked about the future of golf and its potential as an industry in Saudi Arabia in the buildup to the Saudi International.

The European Tour event is taking place this week at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with a star-studded field of 132 players vying for a prize fund of $3.5 million.

Prince Khalid said the two high-profile tournaments Saudi Arabia is hosting — the Saudi International and Saudi Ladies Championship in March — will show that golf can be a good career choice for women as well as men.

“There are many opportunities for Saudis to have a career in the golf industry. The golf industry encompasses hospitality, management, agronomy, real estate and a host of other professions as well as being a golf professional, both touring and teaching,” Prince Khalid said.

“With the ambitious plans for the Saudi game, supported by King Salman and with special support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, golf has a bright future, and should provide many job and career opportunities for Saudis, both male and female,” he said.

“With the support given to all sports by our leadership, Saudis now have the option to take up sports as a profession, and build a life and career out of it.

With the ambitious plans for the Saudi game, supported by King Salman and with special support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, golf has a bright future, and should provide many job and career opportunities for Saudis, both male and female.

Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal

“We have a national ladies team, alongside our junior and men’s teams, which is a wonderful development.

“The Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi under the direction of Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his right-hand man Majed Al-Sorour have developed wonderful plans for golf courses, academies, training programs and entertainment golf that will accelerate the spread of the sport in Saudi Arabia.”

“In addition to this, we have the professional men’s and ladies tournaments, and the prize money is an indication of the support given to golf,” Prince Khalid added.

The prince, son of the late Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal, thanked the crown prince for the support he has given to sports in general and to the “sport I live most in particular.”

Prince Khalid’s love affair with golf started late in his teen years.

“I started playing golf consistently when I was in my early 20s. Golf is a wonderful sport. It is one of the most difficult sports as well as one of the most rewarding, and can be played competitively and for fun with family and friends,” he said.


Guardiola under pressure as City chase elusive crown

Updated 20 October 2020

Guardiola under pressure as City chase elusive crown

  • Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League

LONDON: Pep Guardiola starts his latest bid to lead Manchester City to Champions League glory with the shadows of past failures casting doubt on his ability to secure that elusive title.

City host Porto in their opening Champions League group match on Wednesday with Guardiola's failing in the tournament weighing heavily on both the Spanish boss and his club.

Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League and Guardiola has found the competition equally vexing for much of the last decade.

Since he won the Champions League as Barcelona boss for the second time in 2011, Guardiola has failed to return to the final of Europe's elite club competition.

That nine-year drought includes four years of frustration since he took charge at City in 2016.

In that time, Guardiola has seen City beaten by Monaco in the last 16 and Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon in the quarterfinals.

He also lost in three semifinals during his time as Bayern Munich manager before moving to City.

Last season's shock 3-1 defeat against Lyon in Lisbon was especially galling as City were heavy favorites against the French side.

Guardiola deserved a large portion of the blame for that letdown after his tactical tinkering appeared to unsettle his players and did nothing to tilt the tie in City's favor.

Interpreted by Guardiola's critics as further proof that his Champions League success at Barcelona was due to the presence of the great Lionel Messi's presence, the only bright side of the Lyon loss was that it was not their farewell to Europe for a while.

For several months last season, it appeared City would not even be competing in the Champions League this term after UEFA gave them a two-year ban from European competitions for Financial Fairplay breaches.

City's legal dream team won that battle and the suspension was eventually thrown out on appeal.

Whether Guardiola can be as successful in Europe as City's Abu Dhabi-based owners were in the court room remains far from certain.

Adding to the unease around City ahead of their European campaign is the unresolved issue of Guardiola's future.

Guardiola is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to agree on a new deal amid speculation that he may decide to leave the Etihad Stadium in 2021.

For now, Guardiola will focus on Porto's visit to Manchester rather than entertaining questions about his long-term plans.

The 49-year-old insists he has to earn a prolonged stay at City by improving on last season's disappointment, which saw them surrender the Premier League to Liverpool and win only the League Cup.

There have been some worrying signs already as Leicester thrashed City 5-2, while Saturday's 1-0 win against Arsenal was far from convincing.

Significantly, Guardiola was able to welcome back Sergio Aguero last weekend as City's record goalscorer made his first appearance for four months after knee surgery.

City have lacked a cutting edge in Aguero's absence and Guardiola's hopes of a serious Champions League challenge hinge on the Argentine striker staying fit.

"The important thing is that Sergio comes back in good physical condition, starts to get his rhythm, doesn't get more injuries and plays good," Guardiola said.

"We know what he means for us, we know how we appreciate him, but now he has to show like every one of us, me first, that we deserve to continue here and playing good and winning games."