Prince Sultan: We will have Saudi drivers in Formula One

Frank Willians with Prince Fahad in a famous Saudi-sponsored Williams Formula One car of the early 1980s. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 December 2021

Prince Sultan: We will have Saudi drivers in Formula One

Frank Willians with Prince Fahad in a famous Saudi-sponsored Williams Formula One car of the early 1980s. (Supplied)
  • Racing pioneer, the first Saudi, Arab and Muslim in space, says ingenuity and determination in his country’s genetics

JEDDAH: When you have seen Earth from space, your perspective on life, quite literally, changes.

The first Arab, and Muslim, to get that life-changing view, Prince Sultan bin Salman, has already lived a life few could imagine. Perhaps one that is a metaphor for the Kingdom’s hunger to always strive for the next achievement.
“Well, I haven’t started yet achieving anything I really wanted, so give me time, we’re still at the beginning,” Prince Sultan said with a knowing smile, “but every experience has its own dimensions, and I took it on in my life not to compare experiences.”




In this photo dated 1979, Prince Sultan bin Salman with the late Prince Fahd bin Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al-Saud at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, California in the US. (Supplied)

From the vastness of space to the desolation of the desert, it is all about appreciating the moment.
“I could be walking with my camels in the desert,” he said. “On the space shuttle experience, it was a completely separate experience. As pilots, we’re very excited. But then when you go into space, (the) shuttle is really not a pilot experience. You think it’s like ‘I’m a pilot, I’m going to enjoy seeing the Earth for a bit of further destination distance.’”

In his book "Seven Days in Space", the prince expands on becoming the first Arab astronaut at the age of only 28.


Prince Sultan’s passion these days is flying Learjets, a legacy of his days as a pilot with the Royal Saudi Air Force in the 1980s. His trip on the Space Shuttle Discovery would take place from June 17 through June 24, 1985. But it was in the 1970s that he fell in love with cars — his own and, eventually, Formula One cars.
The first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix may be hours away but the Kingdom’s historical connection with F1, perhaps a forgotten one, stretches back to the late 1970s and early ‘80s. And for that, Prince Sultan can take a big share of the credit.
It was a chance meeting with Frank Williams — who passed away last week at the age of 79 — in Colorado in 1978 that would lead to Saudi Arabia’s first steps into F1. Prince Sultan remembers him with genuine affection.

It’s going to become an industry in Saudi, and it’s going to become something that we make, and we’d be proud of. You’ll see Saudi Arabia surpassing in technology and development and of course, in drivers.

Prince Sultan bin Salman

“Frank Williams, God bless his soul,” he said. “He was a good man, he loved Saudi Arabia, and I really wished that he would have come to this (grand prix) because I was communicating that when he came, we’ll do a joint interview on television about how the team started.”
Soon the owner of Williams racing, established in 1977, and its technical director, Patrick Head, were visiting the Kingdom, where Prince Sultan introduced him to his late brother and mentor, Prince Fahd bin Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al-Saud, the fomer ambassador for Saudi Arabia to Italy and the UK.
“And then the sponsorships started falling in,” said Prince Sultan.
These partners were Al Bilad, which gave its name to the team, and national airline and major sponsor Saudia, which backed the team to the tune of $100,000, a fortune in those days.




Prince Sultan bin Salman poses with a modern-day edition of the famous Saudi-sponsored Williams Formula One car of the early 1980s, with F1 champion Alan Jones to his right (Supplied)

The two Williams cars would also carry numbers associated with Prince Sultan.
“I was born on June 27,” he said, “so we have the two cars 27 and 6. And then we had 28, which is the backup car. So when Frank and I were talking, Frank said he was willing to do anything. I wish I’d said I’d like to own half of the team for bringing in a sponsor and all that. He would have done that, but I was in it for fun.”
And fun he would have. A famous trip to California for the Long Beach Grand Prix in 1979 - in which  saw the trio of Saudi Princes enjoying the company of the likes of Williams, legendary drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, and former Beatle George Harrison.

Well, I haven’t started yet achieving anything I really wanted, so give me time, we’re still at the beginning.

Prince Sultan bin Salman

“Harrison had a very nice personality,” said Prince Sultan. “I met some of those rock and roll stars in America, and we’d go to concerts. But George Harrison was very, very polite, nice to be with. We would go to dinners and events, he would sit at the same table, and we’d talk. He offered once that if I came to London, he would introduce me to a couple of The Beatles.”
With “Fly Saudia” adorning its wings, Williams stormed to the Constructors Championship in 1980 and 1981. The Australian Alan Jones, who had posted the team's first ever win at that memorable Long Beach Grand Prix, drove Williams to the Driver’s Championship in the first of those triumphs, and in 1983, Keke Rosberg — father of 2016 F1 champion Nico — retained the individual title for the team despite winning only one race all season.
On Saturday, Dec. 4, Prince Sultan’s story with F1 came full circle as he visited Jeddah Corniche Circuit and alongside Alan Jones, Jackie Stewart, Saudi Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal and Aramco CEO Amin Nasser, paused for photos on a modern day reproduction of those iconic Williams cars from the early 1980s.

For Jones in particular, this was a poignant reunion four decades after his championship win with Williams.


The prince is still a fan of F1 and joked that he will not be cheering for Lewis Hamilton as “he’s won everything” and should leave something to the others.
I’m always in favor of the young drivers who have just come to this industry,” said Prince Sultan.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix may be hours away but the Kingdom’s historical connection with F1, perhaps a forgotten one, stretches back to the late 1970s and early ‘80s. And for that, Prince Sultan can take a big share of the credit.

• It was a chance meeting with Frank Williams — who passed away last week at the age of 79 — in Colorado in 1978 that would lead to Saudi Arabia’s first steps into F1. Prince Sultan remembers him with genuine affection.

Conditions for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are ideal, he believes. “It comes down to, of course, Jeddah is at sea level and there’s the fantastic timing of December now,” he said. “So the cars are not going to suffer. It reminds me of Long Beach because it’s right on the ocean, it’s on the beach. We don’t have the Queen Mary parked there, but we have beautiful Jeddah and it’s really tremendous, we’re all looking forward to it.”
Prince Sultan is proud of all things Saudi and highlights the achievements of its engineers, artists, photographers and sportsmen. He sees a time when world class drivers will be added to the list.
“Eventually, we’re going to have Saudi drivers (in) F1,” he said. “It is genetic here, I’m telling you, it’s genetic here to be able to do a lot of things, and completely connect very quickly. The talent is here.”
Prince Sultan added: “If you want the definitive thing from me, I say Saudi Arabia not only has to host F1 — we have to go beyond that. We have to do what Saudi Arabia does best, not to beat this or to be better than that, but we need to do our own car and push the technology that will filter down to other things we do here in Saudi, and we need to build it and design it.”
The motorsport industry in the Kingdom has already taken major steps in recent years, with the hosting of the Dakar Rally, Formula E and Extreme E, and now, the grandest of the lot.
“Saudi Arabia’s relationship with F1 is not going to stop, I’m sure, by hosting it on the racetrack,” he said. “It’s going to become an industry in Saudi, and it’s going to become something that we make, and we’d be proud of. You’ll see Saudi Arabia surpassing in technology and development and of course, in drivers.” We’re still at the beginning.


Dubai World Cup Carnival continues to provide Saeed Bin Suroor with more winners

Dubai World Cup Carnival continues to provide Saeed Bin Suroor with more winners
Updated 23 sec ago

Dubai World Cup Carnival continues to provide Saeed Bin Suroor with more winners

Dubai World Cup Carnival continues to provide Saeed Bin Suroor with more winners
  • While last week saw another successful outing for Godolphin, this Friday’s meeting star turn could well be Shahama, trained by Bahraini Fawzi Nass for KHK Racing

Saeed Bin Suroor is the most successful trainer in the history of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, and he enjoyed another excellent night last Friday, saddling three winners.

They included Desert Fire, who popped up for a surprise success in the Group 2 Al-Rashidiya.

Having been training since the inception of Godolphin in the early 1990s, Saeed could be forgiven for being a little stuck in his ways.

Not a bit of it — he’s often trying to do things differently and something that has come to light in recent seasons is his willingness to use a wide range of jockeys. In the UK in 2021, the former policeman used 35 different riders on his horses and so far in the UAE this season he has used five.

His longstanding association with Frankie Dettori is well established — “we have been friends for 27 years” — and means the Italian gets the pick of the rides but, in truth, choosing the best one isn’t all that easy.

Let’s use Desert Fire as an example. He looked the second choice of Saeed’s runners in the Al-Rashidiya, with Dettori on board Bedouin’s Story. That gave young jockey Hector Crouch the mount on Desert Fire, an opportunity he grabbed, collecting his biggest success to date on the seven-year-old. Later on, Pat Cosgrave was the beneficiary of Saeed’s jockey shuffle, bolting up in the Rated Conditions race on Dubai Icon.

“We know that Frankie gets on the first string, but beyond that, he does try to split it quite evenly,” said Crouch, who rides Bin Battuta for Bin Suroor in the Listed Al Khail Trophy on Friday. “It lets us all have a chance and there aren’t any bad rides for Saeed, especially in Dubai.”

As well as Crouch, Bin Suroor has been pivotal in developing the careers of several young riders, with UK Champion Apprentice Marco Ghiani among those to benefit from his support last year. His successes included riding Real World to victory in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York, before Dettori took over on the gelding when he won a Group 2 in France in October. As is the modus operandi, the senior rider will be on Real World when he runs in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile at Meydan on Friday, one of nine runners for the trainer on the card.

Bin Suroor’s Godolphin colleague Charlie Appleby runs eight on Friday’s eight-race card and has several strong chances, including with Star Safari, who drops in grade in the Listed Zabeel Turf, while Man of Promise should be hard to beat in the concluding Listed Dubai Sprint.

The most exciting horse on show on Friday won’t carry the Godolphin blue, however. Her name is Shahama. She is trained by Bahraini Fawzi Nass for KHK Racing, and she has just five rivals to beat in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas. She’s two from two in her career and should be able to make it three here. If she does, then exciting targets could lie ahead, including a possible trip to America for the Kentucky Oaks in May. 

Elsewhere on the card, it’s great to see Australia return to the carnival with their first runners since 2019. Adelaide trainer Will Clarken has sent over two; He’s A Balter and Parsifal, who will contest the 1,200 meter turf sprints that bookend the card. They will be both be ridden by Caitlin Jones, who says it’s a “dream come true” to be riding in Dubai.


Saudi Arabia reach 2023 World Handball Championship after beating Uzbekistan in Dammam

Saudi Arabia reach 2023 World Handball Championship after beating Uzbekistan in Dammam
Updated 21 min 11 sec ago

Saudi Arabia reach 2023 World Handball Championship after beating Uzbekistan in Dammam

Saudi Arabia reach 2023 World Handball Championship after beating Uzbekistan in Dammam
  • 31-24 win in final match of second group stage takes hosts to semifinals of Asian Handball Championship, securing their spot for next year’s tournament in Poland And Sweden

Saudi Arabia have qualified for the World Handball Championship for the tenth time in their history after beating Uzbekistan 31-24 in the Asian Handball Championship on Wednesday night.

The victory at the Ministry of Sports Hall in Dammam in their final second-round group match means the Saudis have progressed to the semifinals, guaranteeing a top five placing, which ensures progress to the 2023 World Handball Championship in Poland and Sweden.

Saudi Arabia will be joined in the last four by Qatar, from Group I, while Iran and Bahrian progressed from Group II.

The Saudis benefited from the South Korean team’s failure to play their fixture against Qatar due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in their squad. With the Koreans forfeiting their match, the team from the Kingdom did not have to worry about any complicated scenarios that might have led to their elimination.

On Saturday, the Saudi team contest the semifinal against Bahrain, who had overcome Iran 36-26 to win Group II. Qatar and Iran will face off in the other last four clash on the same day.

Thursday is a rest day in the tournament, and playoffs positions 9-16 will resume on Friday.


Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon

Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon
Updated 27 January 2022

Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon

Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon
  • The Magpies are said to have lined up a $45 million deal for the Brazil international
  • Eddie Howe’s team seem to have beaten Juventus and Arsenal to the punch to land the midfielder

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United appear to have stolen a march on European giants Juventus and Arsenal by lining up a deal to sign Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes.

Arab News understands that while the player’s current club, Olympique Lyonnais, have publicly stated a deal has yet to be finalized, the framework for the transfer has already been agreed between the buyers, the sellers, the player and his representatives.

The fee is believed to be in the region of $45million, although the finer points of the deal are still to be ironed out.

Guimaraes is on international duty with Brazil, who face Ecuador at the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado in Quito tomorrow evening. It is thought he could undergo a Newcastle medical check upon his return to Brazil on Friday.

The signing of the much-coveted Lyon midfielder would represent a real statement capture for United, who so far have only managed to land Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood during the January transfer window.

Arsenal and Juventus have been tracking Guimaraes this season but both failed to show their hands, leaving the door wide open for Newcastle’s transfer negotiators, Amanda Staveley and Steve Nickson.

The player is understood to be happy at the prospect of swapping Ligue 1 for the top flight in England, even with the Magpies locked in a battle to avoid relegation.

At this stage, however, Lyon continue to make it clear, publicly at least, that a sale is not yet agreed. A statement posted on the club’s website on Wednesday read: “Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media reporting an agreement between Newcastle and OL for the transfer of Brazilian international midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.

“In this transfer window period where the slightest rumor is often presented as reality, Olympique Lyonnais reminds that only information officially released by the club is to be taken into consideration.”

As recently as December, Guimaraes, 24, expressed frustration with French football and revealed he is keen to learn English.

He told Brazilian media outlet Globo: “In France, there are moments where we play like robots; nobody tries to dribble, to find a pass, for example.

“That irritates me sometimes, it is a bit frustrating. I think that those who have talent should profit from that; try to dribble, try to link moves. If you do that, your game will be complete.

“There are moments where I should be more egotistical, as in try to finish well. Because I have a good pass, I think always that my pass will be what is necessary, so I pass when it is the moment to shoot.”

United are keen to recruit at least another three or four players before the transfer window in England closes at 11pm local time on Monday, Jan. 31.

The Magpies are hoping to tie down a deal for Bayer Leverkusen and Netherlands left-back Mitchel Bakker. It’s understood a deal is ready to be signed but can only progress if the Bundesliga outfit find a replacement for him between now and the end of the window. A fee believed to be in the region of $21.5million has been agreed between the clubs.

Meanwhile United’s frustrating pursuit of Brazilian Diego Carlos seems to have come to an end, with the club walking away from the deal. While an offer of about $40million remains on the table, Sevilla are said to want more than $50million, a price United are unwilling to pay for a player a little over a year away from turning 30.

With Newcastle in need of central defensive recruits, the club’s transfer committee, which consists of head coach Eddie Howe, assistant Jason Tindall, director Staveley and chief scout Nickson, have now turned their attention to domestic targets.

Geordie Dan Burn, currently with Brighton and Hove Albion, is one player United are keen on, and moves for Liverpool’s Nat Phillips and Tottenham Hotspur’s Joe Rodon cannot be ruled out.

It is understood that another high-profile move, for Jesse Lingard, has hit the rocks over the fee that Manchester United insisted on being paid should the Magpies remain in the Premier League come the end of the season. This was said to be on top of a loan fee paid up front for the 29-year-old.

The England international’s contract at Old Trafford ends in June and all parties were thought to be happy to strike a loan deal until the end of the Premier League season. However, the Red Devils’ financial demands put an end to the negotiations, at least for now.
 


Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery

Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery
Updated 27 January 2022

Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery

Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery
  • There have been several high-profile cases of Covid-19 effects preventing players returning to the pitch immediately after testing negative for the virus
  • Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich, who was unvaccinated, missed two months of action due to lung damage, while Juventus forward Paulo Dybala said he struggled with a "shortness of breath"

PARIS: Very few top-level footballers have suffered from life-threatening bouts of Covid, but the longer-term effects of the virus are now being seen in the game, with one study suggesting even players’ passing quality can suffer.
There have been several high-profile cases of Covid-19 effects preventing players returning to the pitch immediately after testing negative for the virus.
Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich, who was not vaccinated, missed two months of action due to lung damage, while Juventus forward Paulo Dybala said he struggled with a “shortness of breath” when he returned in 2020 after testing positive.
Even seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi admitted that he needed “more time than expected to recover” after contracting Covid over the winter break.
There have been a handful of more serious cases in professional football.
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow spent three days on a hospital drip, Montpellier winger Junior Sambia was hospitalized in intensive care and Nantes’ Jean-Kevin Augustin has not started a first-team game since 2019 due to long Covid.
But many coaches have also expressed fears in recent weeks about short and medium-term effects.
“When players have the virus and then come back, it’s not done just by a click of the fingers. Even they feel it, it takes time,” said France’s World Cup-winning manager Didier Deschamps.
Researchers from the universities of Duesseldorf and Reading saw results from a study, into 257 Bundesliga and Serie A players who returned after suffering with Covid, that suggested performance levels also fell.
The study found that players’ passing success rate fell by up to five percent and that the virus affected footballers over the age of 30 more seriously.
It also suggested that teams with the most players who had recovered from Covid had worse results than their rivals.
“So far, the results suggest a permanent alteration in the player’s abilities,” said James Reade, director of the economics department at the University of Reading and co-author of the study, albeit with a caveat.
“The majority of players had not been vaccinated (at the time of the study) and this remains a complicating factor.”
There have been reports of players struggling from cardiac inflammation, including Gabon duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina, who both left the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations to recover from Covid.
But French football federation medical director Emmanuel Orhant said there was no definite link between the virus and increased risk of cardiac problems for footballers.
He found, in December 2020, that 2.2 percent of 350 players who tested positive had a cardiac issue.
“All were mild and disappeared within a few weeks, and it is impossible to say that all were linked to Covid,” Orhant told AFP.
But he did say that players were taking longer to recover from Covid than they usually do from the flu.
“We know that the virus has an impact on short-term ventilation,” Orhant said.
“With the flu, we can put the players back on the pitch as soon as they are better. This requires a longer rehabilitation time.”
But with the vast majority of cases in European countries now being caused by the omicron variant, it is expected that the effects will be far less severe.
“We can no longer talk about omicron in the same way we talked about the first infections, which were much nastier,” added Orhant. “Today, most players have almost no symptoms.”


Saudi authorities honor qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Vice President of SOPC Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz honors the members of the Saudi winter sports team who qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SOPC)
Vice President of SOPC Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz honors the members of the Saudi winter sports team who qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SOPC)
Updated 27 January 2022

Saudi authorities honor qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Vice President of SOPC Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz honors the members of the Saudi winter sports team who qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SOPC)
  • Three athletes from the Kingdom earned enough qualifying points to be eligible to compete at the Games but only one could be selected
  • The Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee chose Fayik Abdi to represent the country in Beijing; he will compete in the giant slalom

RIYADH: Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz, vice president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, honored the members of the Saudi winter sports team who made history by qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

On behalf of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sport and president of SOPC, Prince Fahd congratulated alpine skiers Salman Al-Howaish (slalom) and Fayik Abdi (giant slalom), and cross country skier Rakan Alireza during a reception at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh.

All three earned enough qualifying points to be eligible to compete in Beijing but Saudi Arabia was only allocated one place at the Games, which was ultimately awarded by the SOPC to Abdi after a technical comparison of the qualifiers.

“Qualifying in itself is an honor and a victory,” Prince Fahd told them, adding that their names will go down in history of sport in the Kingdom as the first Saudis to reach the qualification standard for the Winter Olympics.

He urged Abdi to do his best and represent the Kingdom in a fitting manner, and said that all three will receive a financial award for qualifying.

Abdulaziz Al-Anazi, the secretary-general of the SOPC, and Ahmed Al-Tabbaa, the president of the Saudi Winter Sports Federation, also attended the reception.

The 2022 Winter Olympics begin in Beijing on Feb. 4