AlUla to host 2 world-class equestrian events in early 2022

AlUla to host 2 world-class equestrian events in early 2022
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The world's number one polo player Adolfo Cambiaso returns to play alongside royal guests in the second edition of Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo. (Supplied)
AlUla to host 2 world-class equestrian events in early 2022
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AlUla is hosting two world-class equestrian events for the second time in two years. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 December 2021

AlUla to host 2 world-class equestrian events in early 2022

AlUla to host 2 world-class equestrian events in early 2022
  • The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, will be held on Jan. 29
  • Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo will see four teams compete between Feb. 11-12 in a specially built arena

RIYADH: AlUla is hosting two world-class equestrian events for the second time in two years.

The first, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, will be held on Jan. 29.

It is an 120 kilometer endurance competition organized in cooperation with the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation.

Located in northwest Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. Both sporting events are being held as part of the Winter at Tantora festival taking place over the next six weeks.

The Endurance Cup will see more than 200 riders compete in one of the most exciting long-distance horse races in the world. It is the third year that the tournament is being held, and more than SR15 million ($4.2 million) in prize money is on offer.

The course takes an average of eight hours to complete and in that time some of the best riders in the world will travel through a variety of breathtaking landscapes. Both horse and rider need to be in peak condition, as the race is physically and mentally demanding.

Last year, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum from F3 Stables won the competition.

Italia Endurance Stables & Academy has been appointed organizer of the Endurance Cup, under the leadership of general sport director Gianluca Laliscia and event director Brian Colin Dunn.

Dunn has plenty of praise for the historic location of the race.

He said: “The entire technical team is delighted to visit the stunning desert of AlUla, which has such a deep connection with Arabian horse heritage and is very close to our heart. The welcome of the people and the passion and expertise they have for our sport will undoubtedly make for an epic and joyful experience.”

In the second equestrian event of Winter at Tantora, visitors will also be able to experience a major polo tournament staged in the desert, organized in partnership with the Saudi Polo Federation.

Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo will see four teams compete between Feb. 11-12 next year in a specially built arena that lies close to the ancient site of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Those taking part will be a mix of invited patrons and professional players drawn from the global polo community.

Players from the legendary La Dolfina Polo team will lead one team each. La Dolfina, which many consider them to be “the perfect team,” have a 40-goal handicap together and are the only team to win three consecutive Triple Crowns: the Tortugas Open, Hurlingham Open and Argentine Open, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Recently, the Royal Commission for AlUla and the La Dolfina Polo Team announced the establishment of a long-term partnership to promote the development of the sport in Saudi Arabia.

The deal aims to make the historic city the premier destination for equestrian sport enthusiasts from around the world.

Adolfo Cambiaso, founder of La Dolfina Polo, and someone considered to be the best polo player in history, has become a destination advocate for AlUla.

“We are excited to return to AlUla and play with fellow patrons and players from all over the world,” he said. “Since the first edition of Desert Polo, it’s been great to see the interest in polo grow in the Kingdom, and we look forward to developing the sport in newly explored regions such as AlUla.”

Amr Zedan, chairman of the Saudi Polo Federation, said: “We are very excited to welcome back La Dolfina Polo stars and leading polo patrons, this year from the US, France and the UK.

“The Saudi Polo Federation is working closely to support the Royal Commission for AlUla in developing a new equestrian strategy to continue to build on the Arabian horse heritage of the region.

“With daily flights to AlUla, we hope to see new polo enthusiasts grow in the Madinah region and across the Kingdom.”

It will be the third Winter at Tantora festival where local and international visitors can enjoy traditional music, art, heritage, adventure, culture and food.

Besides the two equestrian events, there will also be a haute couture horse fashion event, the Ikmah Fashion Cavalry Show, “where horses meet high fashion.”

AlUla’s equestrian events are key pillars of a long-term strategy to promote AlUla as a international travel destination.

The Royal Commission’s plans include significant infrastructure and facility development, as well as horse-riding trails and itineraries for visitors to immerse themselves in the majesty of the cultural landscape.

Tickets to attend the two Winter at Tantora equestrian events can be purchased starting Dec. 27 through www.experiencealula.com.


World number two Jabeur into Wimbledon second round

World number two Jabeur into Wimbledon second round
Updated 27 June 2022

World number two Jabeur into Wimbledon second round

World number two Jabeur into Wimbledon second round
  • She will face either Rebecca Marino of Canada or Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa for a place in the last 32

LONDON: World number two Ons Jabeur eased into the Wimbledon second round on Monday with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund.
Jabeur, a quarter-finalist in 2021 and fresh from the grass-court title in Berlin, will face either Rebecca Marino of Canada or Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa for a place in the last 32.


2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup, women’s team triumphs highlight Saudi football progress

2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup, women’s team triumphs highlight Saudi football progress
Saudi Arabia recently won the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan. (SAFF)
Updated 27 June 2022

2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup, women’s team triumphs highlight Saudi football progress

2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup, women’s team triumphs highlight Saudi football progress
  • The Young Falcons won the Kingdom’s debut U-23 Asian Cup title
  • Saudi women’s team took second pace in the WAFF Futsal Championship

RIYADH: The triumph of the Young Falcons at the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup and the recent successes of the women’s national team has marked yet more milestones for Saudi Arabian football this year, after the senior team qualified for the World Cup in Qatar and the Kingdom’s clubs rack up great results in continental competitions.

Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) President Yasser Al-Misehal said: “The success of the Saudi national teams demonstrates that our strategy is yielding positive results. Bringing back to the Kingdom the AFC U-23 Asian Cup for the first time ever with our very own Saudi national coach, Saad Al-Shehri, is a source of great pride and satisfaction.

“The players who achieved this great feat will be part of the main drivers of the success of our National Team going forward.”

He added: “This gives us greater confidence and trust in our younger generation, beside the achievements we had this year for both men’s and women’s football. We are working on developing a pathway tailored for every up-and-coming Saudi footballer on the grassroots level.

“We are working on extending a very large pool of Saudi talent with the support needed for the upcoming generations of Saudi football to match the highest professional levels of the game, be it in the technical and tactical aspects of the game, as well as the dietary, psychological, physical and athletic aspects.”

The U-23 victory comes soon after the senior Green Falcons team qualified for their sixth World Cup participation ahead of this year’s tournament in Qatar. Herve Renard’s team topped their qualification group, which featured continental giants such as Japan and Australia.

The Saudi Pro League continues to grow in quality and importance at the Asian level, with Al-Hilal currently the holders of the AFC Champions League title. This year, three Saudi teams are set to feature in the competition’s round of 16, with Al-Hilal, Al-Shabab and Al-Faisaly having topped their respective groups in the first round.

Earlier this month, the Saudi Futsal National Team also grabbed the silver medal in the West Asian Football Federation’s Futsal Championship. The Green Falcons demonstrated incredible quality throughout the tournament, before narrowly losing 5-3 to hosts Kuwait in the final. The team continued their fine run of form on the road reaching the quarterfinals in the Futsal Arab Cup taking place in Dammam following a thrilling 3-2 encounter against Iraq that ended their campaign.

Saudi women have also enjoyed their fair share of success in football this year. In February, the newly launched Saudi Women’s National Team played its first ever official games against the Seychelles and the Maldives, winning both games with the same 2-0 result. 

The Kingdom concluded their successful hosting of the 2022 West Asian Football Federation’s Women’s Futsal Championship in Jeddah, where the Saudi Women’s Futsal National Team made its debut in the competition and claimed a silver medal following a 4-2 defeat in the final against Iraq.


WWE RAW to mark 20th anniversary of John Cena’s debut

WWE RAW to mark 20th anniversary of John Cena’s debut
Updated 27 June 2022

WWE RAW to mark 20th anniversary of John Cena’s debut

WWE RAW to mark 20th anniversary of John Cena’s debut
  • June 2022 had been dedicated to the legendary wrestler’s arrival on SmackDown two decades ago

RIYADH: Twenty years on from John Cena’s arrival on SmackDown, the legendary wrestler makes an appearance on RAW tonight, the highlight of the WWE’s month-long celebration of his career.

Cena has since those early days become a household name in the WWE, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. The WWE had dedicated the month of June 2022 to the performer.

While his return opponent is yet to be announced, the WWE Universe is in for an action-packed edition of the red brand as Cena steps into the ring for a landmark match tonight.

A joint-record 16-time world champion, Cena has won the WWE Championship 13 times which is also a record. He is also a five-time US Champion, a four-time world tag team champion, a two-time Royal Rumble match winner, a one-time Money in the Bank victor, and has headlined many major WWE events, including WrestleMania five times.

His first US title win was in New York’s Madison Square Garden, opening the 20th edition of WrestleMania in 2004, and delivering two “Attitude Adjustments” to the “Big Show” Paul White. That moment solidified his status as a rising attraction for the promotion.

A year later at WrestleMania 21 Cena would challenge John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) for the main event which marked the first world championship win for “The Champ.” His “I Quit” match against the former champion at Judgement Day in 2005 is still considered a classic.

The main event of WrestleMania 22 in 2006 saw John Cena beat “The Game” Triple H clean in the middle of the ring to retain his title. One year later WrestleMania 23 featured the now dominant WWE champion rise against D-Generation X counterpart and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time — “Mr. WrestleMania” Shawn Michaels.

The Royal Rumble is one of the biggest events on the WWE calendar, and Cena has been involved in many epic showdowns in that event, prevailing in 2008 and 2013 as the winner.

Many fans consider Edge to be Cena’s fiercest rival and their feud certainly elevated both men to new heights. Edge memorably cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on a wounded Cena at New Year’s Revolution 2006 for his first WWE Championship win. Edge and Cena’s rivalry saw the two battle over the WWE Championship for the majority of 2006, and over the World Heavyweight Title in 2009. Their matches captivated WWE audiences, and both superstars have an outstanding 27 World Titles between them.

Cena has also crossed paths with Randy Orton numerous times in his career. During the 2000s the two were believed to be the top stars in the WWE. Between their first match in November 2005 and their last match in February of 2017, Cena and Orton faced each other 22 times in televised matches. The record between the two men is 13-7 in favor of Cena.

Cena faced the Rock for the first time at WrestleMania 28 in what was billed as a “Once In A Lifetime” match. The Rock defeated Cena in a 30-minute classic, but a year later Cena shocked the world at WrestleMania 29 by defeating the Rock for the WWE Championship.

Cena is also a winner of the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for 2018.


Al-Hilal on brink of another league title as they host Al-Faisaly

Al-Hilal on brink of another league title as they host Al-Faisaly
It will also be the third consecutive title for the reigning Saudi and Asian champions. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 June 2022

Al-Hilal on brink of another league title as they host Al-Faisaly

Al-Hilal on brink of another league title as they host Al-Faisaly
  • The reigning Saudi and Asian champions need to match Al-Ittihad’s result against Al-Batin to secure a record 18th championship

DUBAI: Al-Hilal take on Al-Faisaly on Monday night at King Fahd International Stadium knowing that if they match Al-Ittihad’s result against Al-Batin, they will be crowned Saudi Pro League champions for a record 18th time.

It will also be the third consecutive title for the reigning Saudi and Asian champions.

The Riyadh giants trailed Al-Ittihad by 16 points earlier in the campaign but a remarkable run of form in the second half of the season now sees them lead the SPL table on goal difference. A win tonight will guarantee the title, regardless of what the team from Jeddah, who have suffered a late loss of form and nerve, does.

Although Al-Hilal are strong favorites to defeat Al-Faisaly and claim the league title, Argentine coach Ramon Diaz will warn against any complacency, particularly as he will be missing the services of defenders Ali Al-Bulaihi and Jang Hyun-soo.

History suggests, however, that Al-Hilal’s fans will be celebrating tonight, having seen their team defeat Al-Faisaly 17 times in their 23 meetings, with the other six ending in draws.

Meanwhile, Al-Faisaly, in 11th place, go into the match still unsure of whether they will be playing top tier football next season, an indication of just how many clubs are still fighting relegation as the season comes to a close.

Having played 12 consecutive seasons in the Saudi Pro League, Al-Faisaly are flirting with the drop going into the last day, as they did in the 2016-17 season.


Morocco and Iraq to meet in 2022 Arab Futsal Cup final

Morocco and Iraq to meet in 2022 Arab Futsal Cup final
Updated 27 June 2022

Morocco and Iraq to meet in 2022 Arab Futsal Cup final

Morocco and Iraq to meet in 2022 Arab Futsal Cup final
  • Victories over Egypt and Kuwait see the reigning champions and Iraq face off at the Green Hall in Dammam on Tuesday

DUBAI: Morocco and Iraq will meet in Tuesday’s final of the 2022 Arab Futsal Cup after successfully navigating their last-four clashes against Egypt and Kuwait respectively on Sunday night at the Green Hall in Dammam.

Morocco, who had beaten Libya in Friday’s quarterfinal, defeated Egypt 5-2 in their all-African clash, while Iraq — conquerors of hosts Saudi Arabia in the last eight — overcame Kuwait 2-1 in the other semifinal.

The 10-team tournament, organized by the Union of Arab Football Associations and hosted by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, kicked off on July 20, and is the sixth edition of the competition.

Previous winners include Egypt in 1998 and 2005, and Libya in 2007.