A tale of Arab immigrant contribution to sports in Latin America

Special A tale of Arab immigrant contribution to sports in Latin America
Esporte Clube Sirio is a leading sports and social club in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s financial hub. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 November 2022

A tale of Arab immigrant contribution to sports in Latin America

A tale of Arab immigrant contribution to sports in Latin America
  • A generation of immigrants greatly helped to popularize basketball and football across the continent
  • Documentary “4 Colores” shows how football promoted connection between Chileans and Palestine cause

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: The 15th-best tennis player in the world, Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, left the US Open on Sept. 4 after she and her Kazakh partner Anna Danilina were defeated by the duo Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez.

Nevertheless, Brazilians have developed a growing devotion to Maia, and many hope she can become the best tennis player in the country’s history.

Part of her success comes from her formative years at Esporte Clube Sirio, a leading sports and social club in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s major financial hub.

Founded in 1917, the club is one of the great examples of the Arab community’s contribution to sports in Latin America.

Esporte Clube Sirio, a sports club with strong connections to the Arab community in Sao Paulo, helped develop the skills of tennis star Beatriz Haddad Maia. (AFP)

Its first complex included four tennis courts, a basketball court, a football pitch and a lake.

The number of members grew very rapidly over the years among Syrian and Lebanese immigrants — such as the Haddad family — who formed a large community in Sao Paulo, and the club became wealthy. Non-Arab Brazilians soon began to join too.

By 1949, Sirio had gained a reputation as one of the top sports clubs in Sao Paulo, and moved to its current location, in the southern zone of the city, building a modern complex from scratch.

“I joined Sirio as a child in 1955. I saw most of it being built,” Washington Joseph, 72, known by the nickname Dodi, told Arab News. “My brother and I began practicing football, then gymnastics and judo. At 11, I began playing basketball.”

Between 1967 and 1982, Dodi, the grandson of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants, was one of the greatest basketball players in Brazil, and was part of the mythical squad that conquered the world championship in 1979.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, Sirio was one of Brazil’s major basketball teams. Many of its players were regularly called to play in the national team, which was one of the world’s best at the time.

In 2014, Palestino decided to include on its jersey the full map of Palestine (before the partition), replacing the number one. (Supplied)

“We had a hegemony of about 30 years. We won several national tournaments, and also the South American championship six times,” Dodi said.

Another Arab club, Sao Paulo’s Monte Libano, also had a very competitive basketball team.

Sirio took part in the Intercontinental Cup six times, and Dodi was part of the team in all of them except for the 1984 edition. “We ended up in third place twice, second place twice and won it once, in 1979,” he said.

That year, the cup was hosted by Brazil. The matches drew thousands of basketball fans to the stadium and were televised nationwide.

Sirio made it to the final against the Yugoslav club Bosna. The Brazilians’ spectacular 100-98 victory has never been forgotten.

“Our generation greatly helped to popularize basketball in Brazil,” Dodi said. Sirio continued to be a leading basketball club until 1995, when the sport became largely professional in Brazil and its directors concluded that it would no longer be possible to keep the necessary level of investment necessary to maintain it at the top.

A closeup of jersey featuring a map of palestine. (Supplied) 

But Sirio never ceased to be a school for new athletes. It had great champions such as the weightlifter Tamer Chaim — who competed at the summer Olympics in Munich — and tennis player William Kyriakos.

“We also had great judo fighters and top handball and volleyball teams. We continue to be an authority in sports,” Dodi said, adding that a frequent rival of Sirio was Club Deportivo Palestino of Santiago, Chile.

Carlos Medina Lahsen, a Chilean of Palestinian descent and an expert in Palestino’s history, told Arab News: “Especially in the 1950s, matches between the two clubs were greatly anticipated.”

Palestino was founded in 1920 as a football club. Due to British influence, Palestinians already played football in the Middle East before migrating to Latin America, Medina Lahsen said.

“Communities of foreigners began to practice sports looking for integration into Chilean society, but discrimination was very intense at that time,” he added.

The club gave up on football in 1923 and prioritized tennis. But Palestino and another Arab club joined forces in the 1940s, and resumed football at the time of the 1947 partition of Palestine.

Sirio’s 1979 Intercontinental Cup-winning Basketball team. (Supplied)

During the 1950s, the team received much investment from Palestinian businessmen and became known as “the millionaires.” In 1955, it conquered the national football championship.

With the second uprising against Israeli occupation (2000-2005), the interest of many Palestinian Chileans in Palestino grew, and the club saw a surge in new fans.

In 2008, Palestino made it to the final of the national championship against Colo Colo. Although Palestino was defeated, it garnered widespread attention from Palestinians.

In the internet era, news of a football club named after their country amazed them. “We heard that people rented cinema theaters and streamed the match in the Gaza Strip,” said Medina Lahsen.

From then on, the connection between the club and Palestine greatly increased. Chilean players visited Palestine on many occasions, and even the main team took part in matches there. The Bank of Palestine became a frequent sponsor.

In 2014, Palestino decided to include on its jersey the full map of Palestine (before the partition), replacing the number one.

This spurred controversy in Chile, with members of the Jewish community accusing the club of erasing Israel from the map, and many pressuring the national football federation to intervene.

The sports authorities did not consider the symbol to be political in nature, and only fined Palestino because the map exceeded the maximum area of the jersey that could show printed content.

“The club used that jersey all through the season. Until now, it’s the most popular jersey in Palestino’s history,” said Medina Lahsen.

The documentary film “4 Colores,” which narrates the club’s history, demonstrates how football promoted a connection between Chileans and the Palestine cause.

“Many of Palestino’s fans aren’t directly part of the Arab community in Chile, but nevertheless they’ve been touched by the plight of Palestinians worldwide,” said Medina Lahsen, who was in charge of research for the film.

He discovered that across Latin America there have been sports clubs with Palestino or Arabe in their name, such as Central Palestino in Uruguay and Palestino Futbol Club in Honduras. In Argentina and Chile, there are dozens of clubs named Sirio or Sirio Libanes.

In Panama, one of the top football clubs is Deportivo Arabe Unido, from the city of Colon.

Sirio’s unforgettable and decisive game against Bosna that clinched the championship. (Supplied)

Although the Arab community in Colon is not very large — it has an estimated 120 families — it has played a central role in local sports.

DAU “was founded by Arab Panamanians in the 1990s, when the country didn’t have a professional football league. We never thought it would grow so much,” the club’s President Mohamed Hachem told Arab News.

Since its creation, the club has been one of the most successful in Panama’s premier league, with several national championships. Most of its fans are not members of the Arab community now.

“We’ve had a few players of Arab origin, and the Arab community is very supportive of us,” Hachem said.

The club is working to build its new headquarters and sports center, including a social area.

One of Hachem’s plans for the future is to promote a championship among Arab football clubs in Latin America. “It would be a beautiful thing to gather all of them,” he said.

Ancer closes out unique victory at PIF Saudi International

Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza hands Abraham Ancer the trophy. (Golf Saudi)
Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza hands Abraham Ancer the trophy. (Golf Saudi)
Updated 05 February 2023

Ancer closes out unique victory at PIF Saudi International

Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza hands Abraham Ancer the trophy. (Golf Saudi)
  • Mexican matches 19-under tournament record in first ever pillar to post win
  • American Cameron Young finishes second ahead of Australian Lucas Herbert

JEDDAH: Abraham Ancer completed the first ever pillar to post victory in the $5 million PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers on Sunday, closing with a 68 to card a record equaling 19 under par for the tournament, two ahead of American Cameron Young.

The 31-year-old Mexican conducted a masterclass in front running at the Asian Tour’s season-opening event, adding the title to his WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational win in 2021.

“That was my first ever wire-to-wire win,” said Ancer, whose steadiness at the helm was made possible by a solid, repeatable golf swing and sound putting stroke.

“I just didn’t think about where I was on the leaderboard. I just felt like I just want to do that again. I played really good the first round, and I just felt like I wanted to keep that going.

“I kept telling myself, just imagine if I was in like 20th place and just got to go out there and shoot a low one. It worked out. I stayed in the moment, didn’t really think too much about the previous shots or what was coming after. So, I’m really happy with my frame of mind during these four rounds.”

Ancer led by two from Young at the start of the day and was caught by the American on the seventh. But by the turn he had moved one ahead.

A closely fought contest was expected over the closing holes but Young made a bogey on the par four 13th, where he found the water with his approach shot, then doubled the par four 15th, after chipping short and taking three on the green.

Although Young rallied with birdies on 16 and 18 it was not enough to stop Ancer becoming only the second ever Mexican winner on the Asian Tour, after Carlos Espinosa took the 1995 Canlubang Classic in the Philippines.

Remarkably, despite the windy conditions during the week at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Ancer dropped just two shots over the four rounds: on the ninth on Sunday and 17th on Friday.

Young, who matched Ancer’s 68 on Sunday, said: “It’s always disappointing but I think I played pretty well, and I’m playing a bunch the next few weeks. I think I’m in a nice place moving forward.

“He (Ancer) played some really nice golf. He just didn’t make really any mistakes. I think he maybe made two bogeys this whole week, and with all the wind blowing as hard as it was, that’s, one, tremendous control of your golf ball, and two, I think just a lot of mental toughness.”

The result was Young’s eighth top-three finish since last year, following a second in The Open and joint third in the PGA Championship.

“I’m proud of all those finishes,” he said. “There’s nothing I’ve thrown away, I don’t think. If one or two of them was a four-shot lead that I didn’t finish off, that’s a bummer, but I’ve been beat a lot. I haven’t thrown any of them away.”

Australian Lucas Herbert carded a 65 on Sunday to finish third, with Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana shooting a 66 to secure fourth spot and cement his place as one of Asia’s rising stars.

It was also a significant week for Arab golfers, with nine taking part in the PIF Saudi International. Saudi Arabia’s Saud Al-Sharif and Faisal Salhab made their professional debuts at the event, where amateurs Issa Abou El-Ela from Egypt and El Mehdi Fakori from Morocco both made the cut.

Sports For All launches 2nd edition of Riyadh International Marathon

Event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people across Saudi Arabia to get fit and active. (Riyadh Marathon)
Event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people across Saudi Arabia to get fit and active. (Riyadh Marathon)
Updated 05 February 2023

Sports For All launches 2nd edition of Riyadh International Marathon

Event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people across Saudi Arabia to get fit and active. (Riyadh Marathon)
  • Event organized with Ministry of Sports, Quality of Life Program and Saudi Arabian Athletics Federation takes place on Feb. 11

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation has launched the second Riyadh International Marathon, set to take place on Feb. 11.

Organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports, the Quality of Life Program and Saudi Arabian Athletic Federation, the event marks the latest step taken by SFA to encourage more people and communities across the country to get fit and active, stepping outdoors and participating in daily physical activities.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, president of SFA, said: “We are delighted to be bringing the Riyadh Marathon back, giving people another fantastic opportunity to challenge themselves while safeguarding their health. The success of the first-ever Riyadh Marathon was a major milestone for SFA, Riyadh and the Kingdom as a whole, setting an exciting benchmark for what we can achieve as an active and sporting nation. Attracting more than 10,000 participants from various nationalities, the event showcased Saudi Arabia’s potential as a sports hub, and this upcoming edition of the event will only add to the Kingdom’s burgeoning reputation.”

Open to people of all ages — from youngsters to seniors — the marathon will give community members the chance to take part in races of varying distances, including 42 km, 21 km, 10 km, and 4 km races, catering to people of different abilities, including athletic and non-athletic contestants.

For elite participants, the 42 km track starts at 6:25 a.m. local time, and the 21 km track starts at 8:00 a.m. For mass participants, the 42 km track will kick off at 6:30 a.m., and at 8:05 a.m. for the 21 km. The 10 km track starts at 9:45 a.m. and the 4 k.m. track starts at 11:00 a.m. for younger participants.

Over the course of the event, participants will cross some of Riyadh’s notable sites and monuments, including Digital City and Diriyah. Individuals can register and access more information through the SFA app.

Prince Khaled added: “This year’s event will build on the success of our previous events, providing an enhanced quality of experience for all — no matter their age or ability. Our aim is to reach 15,000 participants, catering to different people’s needs and capabilities — for instance, with walking activities.”

To reward people for taking part in the event, a range of financial prizes worth 1 million riyals ($266,517) will also be awarded to a selection of first-place winners. Meanwhile a marathon village will be launched and open to guests from Feb. 10, and will provide live entertainment along with food and refreshment outlets.

In addition to the marathon village, participants will also be able to make the most of several customized pre-marathon training programs. These programs will be scheduled and announced through the marathon website and its social media platforms.

The second edition of Riyadh Marathon is sponsored by a range of leading entities including Roshn, NEOM, SABIC, and Sports Boulevard; as well as Visit Saudi. The official event supporters being are Chery Pro, Right Bite, and Acwa Power. The event is also sponsored by Jeeny, Nova, Delta Sports, ORS, Tawuniya Vitality, MDL Beast and Al-Arabiya.

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage
Updated 05 February 2023

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr may have stolen the spotlight in recent weeks, but the reigning Asian champions’ FIFA Club World Cup semifinal spot reinforces an unmatched legacy on the pitch

LONDON: Al-Hilal are into the FIFA Club World Cup semifinals for the third time in four years.

Yes, Al-Hilal. Remember them? Four-time Asian champions and three-time defending Saudi Pro League champions. That Al-Hilal. Ring a bell?

For those just tuning their antennae to Saudi football for the first time over the past few months, there was only one club dominating the headlines, and it was not the reigning AFC Champions League winners.

It was, of course, Al-Nassr after their headline-grabbing signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, which catapulted them into the international consciousness like no club from Saudi Arabia had ever achieved. Not even Al-Hilal.

To highlight just how much the yellow half of Riyadh was dominating the narrative, one UK-based pundit even claimed Al-Nassr were the most successful Saudi side in recent years — despite Al-Hilal winning five of the past six Saudi Pro League titles.

Al-Hilal? They were cast as a mere footnote to the Al-Nassr-Ronaldo storyline. The Ronaldo-shaped shadow cast not just over Al-Hilal but every other Saudi club was hard to escape.

All that global attention on their Riyadh rivals, while they were still serving a transfer ban and unable to counter the signing of Ronaldo with a move of their own, would have stung a club that has made the AFC Champions League final in three of the past four seasons — something Al-Nassr has not yet managed to achieve even once.

While the world has been busy occupying itself with every exploit of Al-Nassr and Ronaldo — and clips of his first goal for his new club were shown in all corners of the globe over the past few days — Al-Hilal have served a timely reminder that, not only do they still exist, but that they do their best talking on the pitch and have no intention of ceding anything to their crosstown rivals.

Their dramatic win over Wydad Casablanca at the Club World Cup in Rabat on Saturday was a huge statement from Ramon Diaz’s side: “Don’t forget about us.”

The win was all the more impressive given that they are still missing a number of their best players through injuries sustained in Saudi Arabia’s stunning win over Argentina in Qatar just over two months ago.

Talisman and midfield maestro Salman Al-Faraj and energetic full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani both remain sidelined and were absent from the team that silenced the parochial Wydad fans inside the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.

But while the veteran duo were absent, there were a host of other World Cup stars on show, including Saud Abdulhamid, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Kanno and star man Salem Al-Dawsari.

The only sour note in an otherwise historic win was the red card for Kanno, whose absence from midfield against Brazil’s Flamengo on Tuesday could be sorely felt, especially with Al-Faraj already missing.

Al-Hilal’s passage to the semifinals continues a golden period for Saudi football, with the national team’s heroics in Qatar fresh in the memory and Ronaldo’s signing generating international attention for the domestic league the likes of which has never been seen before.

But for a club like Al-Hilal, playing at the pinnacle of the club game is not just where they want to be, it is where they expect to be. On both previous occasions they have played at the Club World Cup, they have also advanced to the semifinals; losing to Flamengo in 2019 before coming up short against Chelsea in the 2021 edition.

They will be hoping it is third time lucky in Morocco, but standing in their way again will be Flamengo.

Such is the belief and mindset of the club that, when players like Odion Ighalo and Al-Dawsari mention they are not just playing to make up the numbers but have ambitions of winning the Club World Cup, it is not just hubris.

Do not rule them out from becoming just the third Asian club to make the final of the Club World Cup because Al-Hilal does not just expect success, it demands it. The name carries an aura right around the continent. They are the top dogs and, more importantly, they know it. Not just that, they revel in it; being the center of attention, the envy of all others, is what they crave most.

“The club has to be at the top, always, to meet our fans’ hopes, to win the most trophies,” club legend Nawaf Al-Temyat, who retired in 2008, told Arab News in 2021.

“Any player who can’t play under pressure won’t be a superstar. Playing under pressure is a key factor to show the real personality of the player. This is what the young players must learn,” he added.

One player who mastered playing under pressure is arguably the club’s greatest player, Sami Al-Jaber. During a glittering career that spanned almost 20 years, he played and won everything for Al-Hilal.

“Al-Hilal is not just a football club, Al-Hilal is a legacy, it’s a very big legacy in Saudi Arabia and the region,” he told Arab News back in 2017.

“(It’s) just like my family, just like home and my family. It’s a club that has a legacy and it’s more than just a football club. You can see the history, and in Asia I would say it’s No. 1.

“I can’t say any more than the club is more than a football club, it’s a community.”

While the Club World Cup may not generate the same emotion as its international counterpart, it still comes with significant international exposure and Al-Hilal will bask in taking the spotlight away from Al-Nassr, even if just momentarily.

How could anyone forget Al-Hilal?

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City
Updated 05 February 2023

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City
  • The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208)

LONDON: Harry Kane’s record-breaking goal pushed Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday to further dent the champions’ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Kane slotted home after 15 minutes and moved past the late Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time leading scorer on 267 goals.
It proved enough to keep up Tottenham’s excellent recent home record against City, which could have moved two points behind first-place Arsenal following its defeat at Everton on Saturday.
Fifth-place Spurs instead claimed a third victory from their last four matches against Pep Guardiola’s team — despite Cristian Romero’s late sending-off for a second yellow card — to aid the recovery of absent manager Antonio Conte, who is still in Italy after having his gallbladder removed on Wednesday.
Despite Conte recovering from surgery, he was involved in team selection and deadline-day signing Pedro Porro was only on the bench for Spurs with City surprisingly naming Kevin De Bruyne among the substitutes, too.
The visitors had seen Arsenal drop points a day earlier and signaled their intentions with Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez having shots blocked in the opening exchanges.
City was dominating possession but soon felt the familiar feeling of trailing to Tottenham — and it proved a record-breaking goal.
Eric Dier urged his teammates to press higher and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stole in ahead of Rico Lewis outside the away penalty area to intercept Rodri’s pass and slip the ball into the path of Kane, who scuffed an effort beyond goalkeeper Ederson and into the corner.
The screens inside the stadium acknowledged Kane’s achievement before the striker waved to his family in the West Stand.
Bookings followed with Rodrigo Bentancur and Romero cautioned in quick succession, the latter for clattering into the ineffective Erling Haaland.
Tottenham assistant coach Cristian Stellini, filling in for Conte, was attempting to match the animated presence of his fellow Italian on the touchline but saw his team enjoy a slice of luck before the break.
After Rodri and Jack Grealish failed to find the net with curled efforts late in the half, Mahrez sent a stinging half-volley crashing against the crossbar from 12 yards (meters) that bounced away to safety to ensure Spurs were ahead at the break for the first time at home since Oct. 12.
Ben Davies headed wide for the hosts at the start of the second period before Guardiola turned to De Bruyne with 57 minutes played.
De Bruyne’s first real involvement saw his short free kick find Alvarez, who saw a low shot diverted over by Dier’s thigh.
It sparked a frantic spell with Romero blocking Manuel Akanji’s shot and, seconds later, Ivan Perisic’s cross agonizingly evaded the Argentina defender and Kane at the back post.
Kane was in the thick of the action minutes later, sending one effort wide before Ederson denied him after the striker surged between Kyle Walker and Akanji.
More drama was to follow with referee Andrew Madley showing Romero a second yellow card for a foul on Grealish before five minutes of stoppage time was added on.
Despite plenty of City possession, Tottenham held firm to move a point off the top four and do rivals Arsenal a big favor in the title race.

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International
Updated 05 February 2023

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International

Arab amateur golfers make their mark at PIF Saudi International
  • Egypt’s Issa Abou El-Ela, Morocco’s El Mehdi Fakori make cut at Asian Tour event
  • “Nothing’s out of reach,” Egyptian says after breakthrough

JEDDAH: It may be a battle at the top of the leaderboard between Abraham Ancer and Cameron Young, but two young Arabs also made their mark at the PIF Saudi International this week.

Amateurs Issa Abou El-Ela of Egypt and El Mehdi Fakori of Morocco both made the cut at the Asian Tour’s flagship event against some of the best golfers in the world.

“From my perspective, it hasn’t sunk in, but I think it’s just a great thing for confidence,” Abou El-Ela said.

“At the end of the day, it’s more about the whole Arab community. It’s not just me, it’s more of a sign that we can do it. We now have Faisal, Saud, Othman and Shergo who are all professionals competing out here too.

“I’m obviously over the moon to make the cut but it just shows that as Arabs we have a chance to shine on the global stage and it doesn’t have to be at football.

“Now we have a chance to show it, and with the support of Golf Saudi and the Arab Golf Federation, I don’t see why in five to 10 years, even past me, we see one of our juniors in the Arab community winning one of these.”

Fakori also finished the week on a high, shooting a four-under 66 in the final round on Sunday.

“I felt less pressure today and gave the course the proper respect that it deserved from the first hole. Unlike yesterday, I was playing for birdies,” he said.

Both men said they were grateful to the International Series for the opportunity to play against some of the world’s best golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Bryson Dechambeau.

“I’m very happy to be playing with the world’s best players,” Fakori said. “I’m playing with them and getting the firsthand experience to learn what I need. But when I’m in the field I am only focusing on myself and my own game.”

Abou El-Ela, who birdied the last hole at Royal Greens to make the cut, said: “A bunch of the guys on the Asian tour I’ve known for a while since the International Series have been taking me under their wing, like Richard Lee and a lot of other guys, so I’ve just started to feel more comfortable on this tour. I’ve seen a lot of these players succeed before and it just made me thirstier to do better.”

The 28-year-old Egyptian added: “I’m just trying to help build a way just to prove that nothing’s out of reach … obviously we have a lot of young talented juniors from all the countries around the Middle East, I’ve seen it in Pan Arabs, I’ve seen it day in and day out.”

In a message to those aspiring to make the top grade, he said: “You have so many opportunities and I just think we have a chance, so don’t let any obstacles like not finding a college or you can’t find a coach get in your way. You are what you make yourself, so just keep fighting and one day we’ll see one of these juniors here and I can't wait to watch myself.”

Fakori added: “You need to respect the sport, you need to be disciplined and consistent. There’s no one better than the other, there’s just a player who’s more consistent.”

The other Arab golfers in the field this week were Faisal Salhab, Saud Alsharif and Othman Almulla of Saudi Arabia — the first two of whom were making their professional debuts — Baha Boulakmine of Tunisia, Jamal Allali and Adam Bresnu of Morocco, and Shergo Al-Kurdi of Jordan.

The next stop for Abou El-Ela and Fakori is the International Series Oman, which starts on Thursday, and where they will line up against the likes of Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Eugenio Chacarra and Carlos Ortiz.