JEDDAH: Academics, researchers, specialists and lecturers from 19 countries gathered at the University of Jeddah on May 18 for the start of Sports Sciences: Economy, Health, Lifestyle, which is said to be the first international conference of its kind.
The two-day event, held under the patronage of the minister of education, began with a welcome speech by Adnan Al-Humaidan, the president of the university.
“This conference is a novel idea, especially since Saudi Arabia has been recently bidding to be at the forefront of the developed world and sports,” he said.
He said that the decision of the university to organize the conference reflects the aim of the Kingdom to be an international leader in sports sciences, to help contribute to achieving the goals of the nation’s Vision 2030 development and diversification plan.
Delegates will discuss a number of topics during the conference, including the relationships between sports, health and the quality of life program as part of Vision 2030, and the issue of governance in sport and its role in tackling corruption within sporting organizations.
The event will also explore women’s sports, the use of artificial intelligence and the digital transformation of the sports industry, and the role of sport in generating financial and human investments and supporting the national economy, and the contributions of software and technology to the development of sports.
Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US and a member of the International Olympic Committee, delivered a keynote speech during the first session of the opening day, which was devoted to a discussion of the experiences of Saudi, Arab and international women in sport.
Speaking via video link, she said: “Saudi women are making tremendous strides in the world of sports, starting with individual participation and progressing to official representation in regional and international competitions. And I am proud to see them right now in every sport and holding top positions in the various local sports federations.
“Today, sport emerges as an important component of the socioeconomic development of a country. Therefore women must be part of that development, not only to be athletes but also to seek other top positions in sports.
“As women increasingly participate in sport and occupy more leadership roles within the sporting sector, they influence the meaning of sport and the place of women in it.”
Other speakers during the opening session included Maha Juffali, president of the Saudi Special Olympics Federation, and Lina Al-Maeena, a pioneer of women’s sports in Saudi Arabia who broke new ground 18 years ago when she founded the Jeddah United women’s basketball team.
Other sessions considered the role of the sports media in promoting the adoption of a more healthy lifestyle, and how best to benefit from international and Arab experiences in the field of sports sciences.