Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor

Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor
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Mansoor taking part in RAW during 2021. (WWE)
Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor
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Mansoor taking part in RAW during 2021. (WWE)
Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor
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Mansoor taking part in RAW during 2021. (WWE)
Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor
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Mansoor taking part in RAW during 2021. (WWE)
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Updated 29 December 2021

Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor

Riyadh homecoming show the highlight of ‘whirlwind’ 2021 for Saudi’s WWE Superstar Mansoor
  • In a landmark year, the Kingdom’s leading wrestler has appeared on WWE’s RAW and SmackDown brands, as well as Survivor Series and Crown Jewel

A lot has changed since my last column in October. From excitement about my tag team partnership with Mustafa Ali to returning to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel and wrestling against him.

It was nostalgic being back in Riyadh and performing in front such a big audience filled with my country people. My match against Mustafa Ali was probably my biggest one this year, mainly because I got to carry the momentum of winning in my home base, in front of family, friends, and amazing fans.

It is bittersweet now that I have left, and I cannot wait to return and feel that wave of emotion and energy again.

In my opinion, the audience in Saudi Arabia is incomparable with any other. People have said Crown Jewel was easily the best KSA show. I would go as far as to say it was the best WWE show of the entire year. It is always a tremendous experience performing over there; the fans only get two events per year, and you can just feel all the excitement they have built up since the last one.

Before going into the ring, I always have butterflies but the moment I step out and hear everyone in the crowd, everything else melts away and I am immediately reminded that this is what I was born to do. That energy and electricity from the crowd takes the show to the next level — it elevates my athletic and performative abilities in ways I did not think were possible and always forces me to perform better.

The same goes for all the other Superstars who put in a lot of work and great effort to make it a memorable event for fans in Riyadh.

It has been a crazy, whirlwind year with so many highs. I have had the honor to perform on both Raw and SmackDown in the same year, as well as feature on other key pay-per-view events like Survivor Series and Crown Jewel. This year, I have had the opportunity to do the job I have always wanted since I was a child and it has been an absolute dream.

A lot of people ask: “How does it feel to be on SmackDown over RAW?”

I still get to work with some of the most amazing Superstars WWE has produced, but the biggest difference would be the length. SmackDown runs for only two hours, while RAW is three hours — this makes things a bit more competitive on who gets time on the show. When I am on the SmackDown schedule for the week, I make sure to be smart about that time.

Overall, 2021 was good to me and I am optimistic about what is to come in the new year.

Officially, I am still in my first professional year with WWE and I want it to end with a bang. I hope that by June or July, before my first year is over, I can compete for a championship and win a title. Whether it is a Tag Team, InterContinental, or even the WWE Championship, that is my next avenue and goal, securing a title.

For the first time, the full schedule of events and pay per views for the coming year have been announced and I am particularly excited for WrestleMania 38, which is set to be the biggest show of the year taking place in April. I am hoping to see Edge take part in the event, he has had a great comeback. Also, I really want to see Big E remain the WWE Champion until WrestleMania and I am sure the fans would want the same, too.

It is so good to be back to live shows and again and I am looking forward to traveling across the world for great events. In fact, one of my biggest dreams is to see a WrestleMania in Saudi Arabia where I can get a chance to compete and win.


Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round

Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round
Updated 55 min 13 sec ago

Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round

Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round
  • The Tunisian, 27, who won the Berlin grass-court title earlier this month, broke twice in the first set before steamrollering her opponent in the second

LONDON: Third seed Ons Jabeur eased through to the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, beating Polish qualifier Katarzyna Kawa 6-4, 6-0.
The Tunisian, 27, who won the Berlin grass-court title earlier this month, broke twice in the first set before steamrollering her opponent in the second.
Jabeur will play unseeded Frenchwoman Diane Parry, who beat Japanese qualifier Mai Hontama, in the last 32.


Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’
Updated 29 June 2022

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’
  • Prices for accommodation range from 300 Qatari rials to several thousand dollars per night

DOHA: Qatar said on Tuesday that World Cup fans have “a lot of options” with more than 100,000 rooms currently available and tens of thousands more expected by the tournament’s kickoff.
Some football supporters have expressed concern that they have been unable to find accommodation in line with their budget for the World Cup, which runs from November 21 to December 18.
Prices range from 300 Qatari rials (just over $80) to several thousand dollars per night.
Qatar has so far taken more than 25,000 bookings, said Omar Al-Jaber, the official in charge of accommodation for the tournament’s organizing committee, specifying that he was taking about “bookings, not rooms or nights.”
“If you go through our website, you will find a lot of options,” he told reporters on a tour of an available apartment in Doha.
“And if you don’t find it today, you need to check tomorrow or after tomorrow... because... we add more inventory to this portal.
“More than 100,000 rooms (are) available as of today,” he said. “If we go to November, maybe we’ll reach more than 130,000 rooms or 140,000 rooms.”
Supporters normally find accommodation themselves for such tournaments.
But Qatar — set to host the most geographically concentrated World Cup in history and with limited hotel capacity — is seeking to channel supporters through an official platform that is reserved for ticket holders and managed by the tournament’s organizers.
Eighty-five percent of accommodation — whether permanent or temporary — is now complete and the remainder will be finished by a “deadline” of end-August, according to Jaber.
The country will be closed to visitors without match tickets during the course of the tournament, Jaber said.
As of Tuesday, the US, Mexico, United Kingdom, Argentina and India accounted for some of the biggest sources of reservations.


New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy
Updated 29 June 2022

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy
  • The Union of European Clubs is being created after an intense 18 months of debate and decisions on reforming UEFA competitions
  • The UEC shapes as an alternative to the European Club Association that has key influence with UEFA

GENEVA: A new group for European clubs feeling isolated in soccer politics dominated by wealthy rivals was announced Wednesday.
The Union of European Clubs is being created after an intense 18 months of debate and decisions on reforming UEFA competitions like the Champions League plus the failed Super League project that rocked the industry.
“It will be a game-changer,” law academic Katarina Pijetlovic said, revealing the new association at the Play The Game sports integrity conference in Odense, Denmark.
Set up to represent community-driven and middle- to lower-ranked clubs, the UEC shapes as an alternative to the European Club Association that has key influence with UEFA.
The goals of so-called middle-class clubs were aired by Eintracht Frankfurt leaders during the German club’s push to win the Europa League in May as UEFA finalized post-2024 revamps of club competition formats and entry paths. An unfinished debate is how to share out billions of euros (dollars) in broadcast and sponsor money among clubs across Europe.
“It is the organization that aims to gather all the clubs that for one or another reasons feel their interests are not adequately represented at European level by ECA, or that they are not represented at all,” Pijetlovic said.
The ECA has about 250 full and associate members who qualified for recent UEFA competitions but has typically been controlled by a select few storied clubs.
A group of 12 of the ECA’s then-leaders last year plotted the Super League as a direct rival to UEFA and the Champions League.
Though the breakaway collapsed within days — amid a fierce backlash from fans, governments and soccer pundits — the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has a July 11-12 hearing that will challenge UEFA’s authority. That case is being driven by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.
“Just because clubs are richer it shouldn’t give them more say in governance,” Pijetlovic said Wednesday.
Officials involved in the new union have spoken to about 100 potential member clubs in all levels of European soccer leagues, said Pijetlovic, a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in England.
Its aims include helping clubs and leagues be more professionally run and improve sporting and financial competitiveness, she said.


NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power
Updated 29 June 2022

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power
  • Partnership comes after megacity named title partner of McLaren Formula E, Extreme E racing teams
  • Saudi Arabia has hosted the Extreme E season-opening Desert X Prix for the last two years

Extreme E has announced a multi-year relationship with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy, water and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to the sustainable all-electric racing series.

Saudi Arabia has hosted the Extreme E season-opening Desert X Prix for the last two years.

The announcement comes just days after NEOM, a sustainable region in northwest Saudi Arabia being built from the ground up, was revealed as the title partner of the McLaren Formula E and Extreme E racing teams under the banner of “NEOM McLaren Electric Racing.”

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: “We are delighted to have ENOWA on board as our official Green Hydrogen Power Partner. We have collaborated with NEOM for some time, particularly in delivering a hugely successful first Desert X Prix of Season Two; this partnership with ENOWA marks a further step in our mission for a more sustainable future.

“The work undertaken by ENOWA is extremely ambitious and an exciting prospect. NEOM, much like ourselves, pushes the boundaries of environmental sustainability and we are delighted to be partnering with ENOWA to go even further in our objective to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

“ENOWA plans to lead the development of world-class sustainable energy water and hydrogen systems which I am sure will become a reference point in the future, and our series will also benefit from this greater focus on technology and innovation.”

Extreme E has become a leader in introducing sustainability in motorsports and green hydrogen is widely seen as the most promising energy carrier for the future in the fight against climate change. The technology supports the transportation of renewable energy over long distances and could spur the decarbonization of major industries and infrastructure.

By partnering, Extreme E and ENOWA aim to implement innovative green hydrogen-based technologies to not only power the championship toward a 100 percent “leave no trace” ambition, but also to showcase the opportunities offered by the technology.

ENOWA will play an active part on the scientific advisory board of Extreme E and together the partners will look to develop educational programs covering climate positive solutions aimed at younger generations.

Commenting on the relationship, Peter Terium, ENOWA CEO, said: “Business decisions in NEOM have sustainability at their core, which is why we are delighted to partner with Extreme E. Our partnership is aimed toward both creating visibility to the most urgent problems the planet is facing, but at the same time demonstrating solutions that deliver meaningful impact.

“Together we can accelerate innovations in clean technologies powered by green hydrogen, contributing to hydrogen mobility markets and the future of global decarbonization.”

NEOM is the first to produce green hydrogen at scale, paving the way for the growth of the hydrogen economy globally. Due to the abundance of solar, wind and water resources in NEOM, ENOWA and partners will provide large quantities of green hydrogen that many industries can use. ENOWA benefits from NEOM’s greenfield site — which has no legacy infrastructure — to advance energy, water, and hydrogen innovation while providing sustainable fuels like green hydrogen to international users. It shares an ethos with Extreme E in its demands for a greater sustainability focus.

At the Season Two opener of Extreme E in NEOM in February 2022, the series revealed its plans to launch an off-road hydrogen championship in 2024. Named Extreme H, the championship will sit alongside Extreme E, its existing electric racing series, and will be a world first for motorsport — further reiterating the commitment to showcasing the possibilities of new, sustainable technologies in the race to fight climate change.

Development for the Extreme H vehicle is already underway, with the aim being the launch of a prototype in early 2023.


Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
Updated 29 June 2022

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
  • About 1.8 million tickets sold so far
  • Tickets to go on sale online from July 5 until August 16

DOHA: The remaining tickets for this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from next week, FIFA said on Wednesday.
About 1.8 million tickets were sold in the first two batches of sales, FIFA said, without saying how many are now available.
Qatar will host the first World Cup in the Middle East from November 21 to December 18 at eight stadiums in and around the capital, Doha.
The latest tickets will go on sale online from July 5 at 12pm Doha time (0900 GMT) until 12pm on August 16, FIFA said in a press release.
“Huge worldwide interest is anticipated in the new sales period,” the world body said.
Officials said three million tickets are available in total, including those allocated to sponsors.
Last week, the World Cup’s chief organizer Hassan Al-Thawadi said 1.2 million tickets had been sold so far.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said there were five million ticket requests just for the final at the 80,000-seat Lusail stadium.
Doha, with a population of about 2.4 million and limited accommodation, is bracing itself for a huge influx of visitors for the 32-team tournament.
Last month, Qatar announced scores of daily shuttle flights from neighboring Gulf countries, allowing fans to stay elsewhere and fly in to watch games.