The day Saudi Arabia and UAE played a seismic Gulf Cup classic in Riyadh

The day Saudi Arabia and UAE played a seismic Gulf Cup classic in Riyadh
On this day 33 years ago, a capacity crowd in the King Fahd International Stadium witnessed one of the competition’s greatest ever showdowns. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 March 2021

The day Saudi Arabia and UAE played a seismic Gulf Cup classic in Riyadh

The day Saudi Arabia and UAE played a seismic Gulf Cup classic in Riyadh
  • On this day 33 years ago, a capacity crowd in the King Fahd International Stadium witnessed one of the competition’s greatest ever showdowns

DUBAI: More than three decades ago, the Gulf Cup of Nations held far more prestige than it perhaps does today. In 1988, Saudi Arabia hosted the event for only the second time in its history, and the tournament produced a classic clash against neighbours UAE.

The noise throughout a dramatic, breathless match almost blew the roof off King Fahd International Stadium.

The thrilling finale, via the head of Saudi Arabia greatest footballer, Majed Abdullah, sealed the legacy of one of the Gulf Cup’s greatest matches.

Saudi Arabia went into that clash with five points from three matches, with the UAE on the same tally from four outings. Both were sat behind a formidable Iraqi team that had gathered six points from four, in the days when a win was still worth only two points.

Both Saudi and the UAE knew victory could set them on the way to their first title.

The message had been received loud and clear by the Saudi audience that turned up that day. From the kick-off the noise from the capacity crowd of more than 60,000 soared.

The visitors blew away their hosts with a sensational first-half performance inspired by the gifted Emirati forward Zuhair Bakheet.

The early minutes saw an onslaught by the UAE that culminated in penalty when Bakheet beat the offside trap and was brought down by Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Deayea.

The goalkeeper, who would go on to become a Saudi football legend, redeemed himself with a superlative save from Abdulrahman Mohammed’s strike.

That only delayed the inevitable.

The rampant UAE attack could only be stopped for so long and, in the 38th minute, Bakheet struck with a volley from a poor Saudi clearance.

There was more to come.

Moments later, Fahd Khamees struck the Saudi near post from a very tight angle and the ever-alert Bakheet tapped in the rebound.

The half-time whistle was sweet relief for a Saudi team holding on for dear life.

But when they emerged after the break they were a team transformed.

Two goals down in front of their home crowd, this was no time for caution.

On the hour, Saudi Arabia halved the deficit through Abdullah Ghurab’s header from a fine Youssef Jazea’a cross, and the momentum shifted decisively for the rest of the match.

With crowd baying for an equaliser, it looked only a matter of time before the home team would deliver. But as the minutes passed, they could not find a way past the resilient Emirati defense and goalkeeper Abdulqadar Hassan.

The Saudis needed a hero to step forward, and 29-year-old Abdullah was their savior.

With three minutes left, the brilliant Jazea’a once again stretched the tiring UAE back line and his cross reached Majed Abdullah, who nodded past a helpless Hassan.

The comeback was complete, and Saudi celebrations, on the pitch and in the stands, and no doubt in homes across the Kingdom, bordered on hysterical.

 

(Video: YouTube)

The match between two gallant, attacking teams finished 2-2, and the result did little to help either side’s championship aspirations.

The UAE would go on to beat Oman 1-0 in their final match, their eight-point haul good enough for the runner-up spot. Saudi lost 2-0 to Iraq and drew 1-1 with Kuwait to finish third.

Iraq, for the third time in their history, were crowned Gulf Cup champions.

For the Saudi and Emirati teams, however, there would be almost glorious postscripts.

Under the legendary Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, Saudi Arabia went on to win the 1988 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in December, beating South Korea on penalties to retain the trophy they had won for the first time four years earlier in Singapore.

The UAE pulled off a miracle the following year by qualifying to the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where it would be Parreira — again — who would coach them as they took on Colombia, Yugoslavia and eventual winners West Germany. It remains the country’s only participation on the world’s biggest football stage.

Saudi’s own World Cup odyssey would start in 1994, with four more qualifications (1998, 2002, 2006, 2018) making it easily the most successful Gulf nation in that respect.

But before those World Cup highpoints, on that glorious March evening in Riyadh all those years ago, it was the beloved Gulf Cup that would deliver arguably one of the greatest matches that Saudi and the UAE have ever taken part in.

For those who were there, the noise is probably still ringing in their ears.


AlUla joins Team BikeExchange as official partner ahead of Tour de France 2021

The partnership between AlUla and Team BikeExchange will look to promote cycling and healthy living in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied/AlUla)
The partnership between AlUla and Team BikeExchange will look to promote cycling and healthy living in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied/AlUla)
Updated 2 min 37 sec ago

AlUla joins Team BikeExchange as official partner ahead of Tour de France 2021

The partnership between AlUla and Team BikeExchange will look to promote cycling and healthy living in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied/AlUla)
  • Partnership will officially run from July 2021 to December 2023, will look to promote cycling in the Kingdom

ALULA: Saudi Arabia's Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) will be partners with GreenEDGE Cycling, also known as Team BikeExchange, ahead of the Tour de France 2021 which will start on Saturday and run until July 18.

The partnership will officially run from July 2021 to December 2023.

AlUla, a heritage and culture destination in north-west Saudi Arabia, has chosen to partner with GreenEDGE during the 2021 UCI Cycling World Tour for men and women in an effort to introduce the its desert landscapes to cycling and sport fans around the world as well as raising the profile of the sport in the Kingdom.

Philip Jones, Chief Management and Marketing Officer at RCU said he is excited to partner with a team that shares common goals such as sustaining eco-friendly environments and promoting health benefits through cycling. 

“AlUla is delighted to become an Official Partner of GreenEDGE Cycling and to be part of a sport which has 1.7 billion spectators around the globe,” he said. “Cycling is a premium sport and offers an invaluable opportunity to communicate the premium AlUla experience, our extraordinary heritage and culture as well as our efforts to future proof the destination for the enjoyment of future generations of visitors.

“As a developing tourism destination, AlUla is focused on safeguarding the natural and cultural landscape, sustaining eco-systems and wildlife and developing light-touch tourism experiences.,” he added. “We are excited to work with the passionate team at GreenEDGE Cycling in the coming years.”

AlUla, and Saudi Arabia as a whole, has increasingly emerged as favored tourist destination in recent years, and its connection to sport has already been established through several competitions and events that include running, motorsports such as Extreme E, and desert polo.

GreenEDGE Cycling Owner and Chairman Gerry Ryan has been a major investor in sport as a way to connect to his customers and sports fans globally, and was involved in the production of the documentary “All For One” in 2017 and the Amazon Prime Series “Eat. Race. Win.” in 2018.

“I am extremely delighted to announce this new partnership between GreenEDGE Cycling and AlUla, a luxury travel destination which we are honored to promote on our team assets,” said Ryan. “We haven’t been there yet physically, but in the last few weeks we have meet many people who are working to promote the region and we have seen so many breathless images and videos and I can’t wait for our first opportunity to visit AlUla and discover more about it. We will do our best to support their growth.”

Home to Hegra, the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the Kingdom, as well as the ancient Kingdom of Dadan, the open air library of rock inscriptions in Jabal Ikmah, and AlUla Old Town, AlUla’s history goes back more than 200,000 years. Today the region is a year-round destination for heritage, arts, nature and adventure. Cycling, through railway bike trails, functional road bike paths and scenic mountain biking is set to play a major part in AlUla’s “Journey Through Time” 15-year masterplan, launched in April 2021.

“For us it is very exciting to have such a prestigious and historical region coming onboard with GreenEdge Cycling,” Brent Copeland, General Manager, Team BikeExchange said. “We strongly feel cycling and Team BikeExchange in particular is the perfect brand to promote such a spectacular area. I look forward to visiting in person soon and working closely with the team at RCU to maximise the opportunities of our partnership.”

“The mutual respect and alignment of values is great for GreenEdge Cycling and it will be exciting to see how our partnership can help AlUla to grow awareness among the passionate cycling community as a luxury heritage destination,” he added. “We are here for a long term partnership and we will keep developing together.”


Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 

Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 

Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 
  • The Kingdom’s track team claimed a first-place podium finish in the men’s 4x100-meter relay race at the Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia
  • Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr was in attendance when the national team members from the short-distance relay were awarded their gold medals

Saudi Arabia’s athletes returned home from the 2021 Arab Athletics Championship with a medal haul that included two golds, a silver and a bronze, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The Kingdom’s track team claimed a first-place podium finish in the men’s 4x100-meter relay race at the Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia.

Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr was present when the national team members from the short-distance relay were awarded their gold medals.

More than 500 athletes from 14 countries competed in 44 events while Morocco won 31 medals, followed by Algeria (21), Egypt (19) and host Tunisia (16).


Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death

Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death
Updated 23 June 2021

Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death

Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death
LONDON: A British police officer was convicted Wednesday of manslaughter in the death of Dalian Atkinson, a former professional soccer player who died after being Tasered and kicked in the head.
A jury unanimously found Constable Benjamin Monk guilty of manslaughter but cleared him of murder.
Former Aston Villa star Atkinson, 48, died in August 2016 after police were called to his father’s home in Telford, central England. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital and died around an hour after officers used a Taser to subdue him. Prosecutors said Monk used a stun gun for 33 seconds against Atkinson — more than six times longer than was standard.
Monk, 43, said he had been afraid for his life after Atkinson, who appeared to be having a mental health crisis, made threats and smashed a glass door pane. He claimed he acted in lawful self-defense, first using a stun gun eight times and then aiming kicks at the athlete’s shoulder. His boot hit Atkinson at least twice in the head.
The officer was convicted after a six-week trial. Atkinson’s family members said in a statement they were “hugely relieved that the whole country now knows the truth about how Dalian died.”
Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court are still deliberating on an assault charge against another police officer who was Monk’s girlfriend at the time.
It is extremely rare for police in Britain to be convicted of manslaughter or murder over deaths in custody or during contact with the public. According to the charity Inquest, the last such conviction was in 1986.
Atkinson was a forward who played in England’s top division for Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa. During a Villa game against Wimbledon in October 1992 he scored one of the Premier League’s most famous goals when he ran from inside his own half, evaded a number of challenges, then chipped the ball over the goalkeeper.
He scored 20 Premier League goals for Villa and also netted in the 1994 League Cup final in the team’s 3-1 win over Manchester United. Atkinson also had spells with Real Sociedad in Spain, Fenerbahce in Turkey and in South Korea.

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach
Updated 23 June 2021

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach
  • Track is part of plans by crown prince to transform Dubai into bicycle-friendly city

DUBAI: A new 16-km cycling track that will run alongside Jumeirah Beach in Dubai has been announced, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The design and construction of the track have come on the orders of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, crown prince of the emirate and chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

The new track will connect the existing Jumeirah Street cycling track parallel to the Dubai Water Canal with the one that runs alongside King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Street in Dubai Internet City.

“The construction of this cycling track is part of our efforts to realise the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to improve the quality of life of people and enhance their happiness,” Mattar Mohammed Al-Tayer, director general and chairman of the board of executive directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said in a statement. “It is also a step to advance sustainable mobility.”

Al-Tayer said the new track is part of Sheikh Hamdan’s plans to transform Dubai into a bicycle-friendly city, and will contribute to the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.

The first sector of the track will have a width of 4 meters stretching alongside Jumeirah Beach in parallel to the existing jogging and walking tracks that extend from Dubai Water Canal to Umm Suqeim Park.

The second sector, which will have a width of 3 meters, will run alongside Jumeirah Street and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Street up to Dubai Internet City.

It will serve locations alongside Jumeirah Beach such as the Sunset Mall, Open Beach, Dubai Sailing Club, Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim Park, and Burj Al Arab.

“The public can use the track for cycling alongside a beach that boasts a variety of service facilities. They can also benefit from the shared bike services available at the Sunset Mall, Al-Manara Mosque and Umm Suqeim Park. The speed limit set for this track is 20 km/h and is classified among mobility, sports and leisure tracks,” said Al-Tayer.

“The cycling track along Jumeirah Beach is part of a master plan for constructing cycling tracks to link vital areas of the emirate,” he added.

“The Master Plan for Cycling Tracks 2026 envisages the construction of additional cycling tracks extending 276 km, which will bring the total length of cycling tracks in the emirate to 739 km. The plan aims to link the tracks at the coastal areas, such as Jumeirah, Al-Sufouh and Al-Marina with the external tracks at Al-Qudra, Seih Assalam and Nad Al-Sheba via Al-Barsha, Dubai Hills.”

Dedicated cycling tracks in Dubai completed by the end of 2020 extend a total of 463 km, and the RTA is seeking to further extend the length to 739 km by 2026.

The RTA has also set a speed limit of 30 km/h for tracks dedicated to cyclists, while tracks in urban areas dedicated to cyclists or shared with pedestrians have a speed limit of 20 km/h.


Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
Updated 23 June 2021

Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
  • African nation joins Tunisia, UAE, Syria in Group B of tournament

DUBAI: Mauritania has qualified for the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup after goals from Ismael Diakite and Hemeya Tanjy secured a 2-0 win over Yemen in the qualifier that took place in Doha.

Mauritania joins Tunisia, the UAE and Syria in Group B of the tournament that will take place between Nov. 27 and Dec. 18.

The match began at a fast pace with both teams trading attacks. Mauritania came closest to breaking the deadlock after six minutes, only for Adama Ba’s free kick to be tipped onto the post by Khairalah Mohammed in Yemen’s goal.

The Africans did get the opener in the 18th minute, and in some style. Ba, from the back, spotted Diakite’s run behind the Yemen backline and delivered a fine long ball over Yemeni defense. Diakite did the rest, finishing clinically after some impeccable control.

Yemen’s chances of a comeback took a massive hit shortly before half time when Mudir Al-Radaei was sent off for a deliberate handball.

After the break, the Yemenis did their best to get back into the game, but the disadvantage meant they were facing an uphill task.

Diakite had a half chance to double the lead for Mauritania when he burst down the right, but he failed to trouble Khairalah.

The second goal eventually came in the dying minutes of the match when Tanjy’s effort slipped under the Yemen goalkeeper to seal a 2-0 victory.

Yemen did finally put the ball in the net in stoppage time, but the effort was ruled out for an offside.