Al-Nassr coach Garcia hails ‘extraordinary’ Ronaldo signing

Al-Nassr coach Garcia hails ‘extraordinary’ Ronaldo signing
Al-Nassr's French coach Rudi Garcia. AFP
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Updated 03 January 2023

Al-Nassr coach Garcia hails ‘extraordinary’ Ronaldo signing

Al-Nassr coach Garcia hails ‘extraordinary’ Ronaldo signing
  • We are happy with his arrival. The first goal is to work so he can adapt to our team, to enjoy playing for Al-Nassr, and to entertain the fans

Al-Nassr coach Rudi Garcia said the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo was a big step forward for Saudi Arabian football after the Portuguese forward arrived in Riyadh ahead of his official unveiling on Tuesday.
Ronaldo, who was a free agent following his acrimonious split with Manchester United in November, joined Al-Nassr last week on a 2-1/2 year deal estimated by media to be worth more than 200 million euros ($213.30 million).
“The signing of a player the size of Cristiano Ronaldo is extraordinary and contributes to the development of Saudi football,” said Garcia, who previously managed Lille, AS Roma, Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais.
“We are happy with his arrival. The first goal is to work so he can adapt to our team, to enjoy playing for Al-Nassr, and to entertain the fans.”
Ronaldo will be unveiled at Al-Nassr’s home ground Mrsool Park, where 25,000 fans are expected to turn up.
The club, who lead the Saudi Professional League (SPL), have seen the number of followers on their Instagram account increase by millions since they announced Ronaldo’s transfer.
The 37-year-old forward has scored 819 career goals and his arrival represents a coup for the Gulf country, which is looking to bring more big names to the SPL.
“We will support the rest of our clubs for qualitative deals with international stars soon,” Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the country’s Minister of Sports, has said.
“Cristiano, welcome to your new home, welcome to SPL.”
($1 = 0.9376 euros)

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah
Updated 01 December 2023

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah
  • The New Zealanders win the first 2 of the day’s 3 races to top the overnight standings on 22 points, ahead of Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on 18

JEDDAH: Emirates Team New Zealand dominated the first day of racing with two wins as the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah began on Thursday. They topped the overnight standings with 22 points, followed by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli of Italy on 18.

In the first race of the day, the New Zealanders finished ahead of British team INEOS Britannia, Swiss team Alinghi Red Bull Racing, and Orient Express Racing Team of France. American Magic were disqualified for leaving the regatta boundaries.

New Zealand’s success continued in race two, in which they finished ahead of Alinghi, INEOS, Luna Rossa, who had problems at the start, French team Orient Express and American Magic.

In the third race, Luna Rossa put in a very strong and controlled performance to win by a good margin, easily finishing clear of Orient Express, Alinghi, INEOS and New Zealand. American Magic once again were disqualified.

“It was a good start for us today, despite the error we committed in the third race, but we managed to be on the top,” Peter Burling, New Zealand’s skipper, told Arab News.

Ruggero Tita, helmsman for Luna Rossa, said: “We are super happy about this last-race win. Of course, it was a super-tricky race but we managed to arrive at the end on the foils which means that we did a really good job.”

The Swiss team of helmsmen Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin, and trimmers Yves Detrey and Bryan Mettraux, faced lighter than expected winds as they put their full focus on staying up on the foils. The crew challenged for a podium place in the first race, finished second in race two, and then successfully chased down several boats from behind after a start penalty in in the third race to grab third place. They finished the day tied for third with INEOS on 15 points.

“It was a solid day for the team, one of those days where you come back (to be) in the middle of the standings and you say, ‘It could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse,’” said Pietro Sibello, their performance coach.

“So overall, I think it was a good day. We should all be happy and hungry for an even better day tomorrow.”

Arnaud Psarofaghis, the Swiss skipper said: “It was really tough conditions. Today was about sailing the boat as well as we could, and mainly about staying on the foils. The last week of training was really useful for us out there, given the marginal conditions.”

Three races are scheduled for Friday, followed by two on Saturday, after which the top two teams will advance to the final.

Tennis, the latest sport on the rise in Saudi Arabia

Tennis, the latest sport on the rise in Saudi Arabia
Updated 30 November 2023

Tennis, the latest sport on the rise in Saudi Arabia

Tennis, the latest sport on the rise in Saudi Arabia
  • The game has been making its mark in the Kingdom’s sports evolution, so much that its nationwide popularity cannot be missed
  • Arij Almutabagani, president of the STF, has spearheaded the federation’s efforts to grow the sport

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has become one of the fastest-growing countries in world of sports, emerging not only as an international sporting hub, but also a center of activities, events, and spectacles.
From athletics, football, F1, boxing, basketball, and golf, many sports are driving unprecedented socio-economic transformation under Vision 2030. They are enriching lives, enhancing well-being, and presenting a whole new world of opportunity, paving the way for people to discover passions, pursue dreams, and realize potential.
Tennis has been making its mark in the Saudi sports evolution, so much that its nationwide growth and popularity cannot be missed.
As president of the Saudi Tennis Federation, Arij Almutabagani is one of the key figures leading the charge. Since assuming her position in 2021, she has spearheaded STF’s efforts to grow the sport across all levels, laying strong foundations for tennis and all involved to thrive.
Almutabagani’s primary aspiration is building a vibrant junior tennis scene. With 63 percent of Saudi’s over 32 million population under the age of 30 and with nationwide sports participation now at 50 percent, she is adamant that tennis can embrace the Kingdom’s youth opportunities.
“Our strategy is to nurture young players, develop infrastructure, and invest in grassroots initiatives because youth is the key to any sport’s long-term success,” she said. “We’re certainly on the right path. Our strategy is working and we’re seeing interest and participation increase.”
Almutabagani’s statements are backed by glowing statistics. Saudi today is home to 177 tennis clubs, up 146 percent since 2019. In the last four years, the number of registered players has increased by 46 percent to 2,300, and U14 players by 100 percent — from 500 to over 1,000.
STF also holds 40 national tournaments annually, including hosting three ITF Juniors tournaments in the past year, which marked the return of ITF events since the first was played back in 2022.
“Major strides have been taken and one of these was tennis being added to the school physical education curriculum earlier this year,” said Almutabagani.
STF’s partnership with the Saudi Sports For All Federation presented “Tennis For All” in 2022, a 16-week mass participation program to introduce tennis to a new generation of sports enthusiasts. Over 13,000 people were introduced to tennis in the first edition, with a higher figure in 2023.
This past April, “Tennis For All” was introduced in the Ministry of Education’s curriculum at 90 public schools, with STF training 170 physical education teachers to provide lessons. Participation more than doubled this time around, with an estimated 30,000 people.
“We’re targeting 200 schools in 2024 and 400 by 2025,” Almutabagani said. “Achieving this will support sustained growth as more tennis academies are launched and more national tennis centers are built. We already have 505 coaches and 182 officials in the Kingdom and we’ll be rolling out more opportunities for people to get involved.”
A sure catalyst for further sports transformation, Saudi Arabia currently hosts its first-ever professional tennis event — the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM. A global, modern, and innovative competition featuring the world’s best U21 players, the finals are currently taking place at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City from until Dec. 2.
Sanctioned by the ATP Tour and hosted by STF, this historic event marks the beginning of a five-year contract to bring the pinnacle of young global tennis talent to the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s top male tennis player, Ammar Alhogbani, has practiced with and played against some of the eight players competing in the Next Gen ATP Finals. He said: “The growth of tennis in Saudi Arabia and for Saudi Arabians has been exceptional in recent years, I’m blessed to be even a small a part of it. To now also have the first sanctioned ATP event in our backyard is an immensely exciting part of our next chapter.
“I’m sure having the best young players from around the world here in Jeddah will inspire future generations of Saudi to follow in their footsteps and encourage all Saudi’s players to come out and experience the event for themselves.”
Looking ahead, the value of Saudi Arabia’s sports event industry is growing by 8 percent per year and will reach $3.3 billion by 2024 — a $1.2 billion increase from 2018. Additionally, significant events investments are being made, with $2 billion committed to help sports grow by 2024.
“Tennis will become a big part of Saudi’s future sports event industry, and this will be the first of many professional tennis tournaments that we stage,” added Almutabagani.
“We eagerly anticipate welcoming tennis enthusiasts from across Saudi Arabia and beyond to witness the exhilarating matches and experience the innovation and excitement that the Next Gen ATP Finals will bring to Jeddah.”

Medals galore on Day 7 of Saudi Games 2023

Medals galore on Day 7 of Saudi Games 2023
Updated 30 November 2023

Medals galore on Day 7 of Saudi Games 2023

Medals galore on Day 7 of Saudi Games 2023
  • Princess Delayel bint Nahar Al-Saud crowns swimming champions
  • Saudi Professional League’s Riyadh derby broadcast live to spectators

RIYADH: Princess Delayel bint Nahar Al-Saud hosted a medal ceremony for the winners of the swimming competitions at the 2023 Saudi Games on Wednesday.
The princess, who is the Games’ deputy director, was joined at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex by Patama Leeswadtrakul, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, and Mona Shehab from the Saudi Swimming Federation.
The star of the women’s events was Imane Elbarodi of Al-Fateh club, who won gold in both the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter breaststroke events. Halaa Diab from Al-Ahli club and Kawtar Elbarodi, also from Al-Fateh, took silver and bronze, respectively, in both races.
In the youth category, Nadine Abdallah of Al-Ahli took gold in the 50-meter freestyle race ahead of Mashael Alayed and Hana Shahhat.
In the youths’ 50-meter breaststroke, Solaf Elkemary of Al-Shabab won gold, beating Maryam Ahmed of A-ACWA and Mashael Al-Ayed of Al-Ettifaq.

Degnah tops climbers
Nidal Degnah took the individual gold medal in the men’s climbing competition at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex.
Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Saud, chairman of the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation, officiated at the medal ceremony, where Taher Al-Haddad took silver and Matteo Largo bronze.
In the women’s event, Sarah Al-Qunebit saw off all-comers to take the gold ahead of Rouwaida Al-Aroui and Lydia Karpova.

Hot shots bag medals
Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Musaed bin Abdulaziz, vice president of the Saudi Shooting Federation, was in charge at the medal ceremony for some of the top shooters at this year’s Games.
The gold medal in the men’s 10-meter air pistol category, held at the City Public Security shooting range, went to Atallah Al-Enezie, with Muhammad Al-Maliki taking the silver and Salem Al-Mutairi the bronze.

Barghout beats them all
Omar Barghout was the star of the youth gymnastics event, taking gold in the all-around competition.
He held off the challenges of Khaled Al-Muzain from the Al-Ittifaq team and Al-Ittihad’s Faris Al-Harbi, who won silver and bronze, respectively.
The medals were presented by Sulaiman Mohamed Al-Jasser, chairman of the Saudi Gymnastic Federation.

Al-Hilal crowned men's volleyball winners
On Thursday evening, last year’s volleyball champions Al-Ahli lost the title race after Al-Hilal beat them (1-3) in the final match at the Ministry of Sports Hall at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex. Al-Ahli had a straight-sets win over Al-Ittihad in the semifinals. Meanwhile, this year’s gold medal winners Al-Hilal beat Al-Nassr in their semifinals.
In the women’s event, Al-Nasr won the gold medal after beating Al-Hilal in the final (3-0).

Al-Ettifaq triumph in esports
Al-Ettifaq have been crowned kings of the gamers after seeing off Triple eSport and Quest Esports in the esports competition at Saudi Media City.
Princess Sara bint Faisal Al-Saud, deputy chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, presided over the medal ceremony.

Masters of martial arts
General Shaddad Al-Omari, president of the Saudi Taekwondo Federation, was on hand at King Saud University to present the medals to the winners in this year’s taekwondo competition.
In the over-80 kg category, Ali Al-Mabrouk of Al-Shabab took gold, with Al-Faraa’s Aaron Cook taking silver and Majed Al-Salim of Al-Ittihad and Yatherb Ali of Al-Fra both winning bronze.
In the under-80 kg event, Al-Shabab’s Ahmed Abu Ghaush took gold after beating Faisal Ali from Abha. Mohamed Al-Suwaiq of Al-Shabab and Mohamed Khayyat from the Falcons each won bronze.
Hasham bin Dookhy emerged as champion in the under-68 kg category, ahead of Rayan Al-Taifi from Al-Ittihad. Abdel Baset Abu Talib of Al-Nahda and Ahmed Al-Khawaher from Al-Salam both took bronze.
In the under-58 kg division, Riyad Hamdi won gold while Abdul-Ilah Asiri from Abha took silver. Fahd Al-Sameeh and Abdul Majeed bin Mughaisib, both youths, took home a bronze medal.

Riyadh derby treat
The Riyadh derby between Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal in the Saudi Professional League was broadcast live to spectators on giant screens at the Saudi Games fan zone.
Visitors to the zone were also treated to live entertainment, children’s play areas and two DJ platforms.

Al-Khawahir lifts herself to the top
A year on from winning bronze at the 2022 Games, Fatemah Al-Khawaher from Al-Salam club rose to the pinnacle of her sport on Sunday, taking gold in the 59 kg weight category.
Guided by former champion and national coach Abbas Al-Qaisoum, the 22-year-old took the top prize lifting just 1 kg more than her nearest rival.
“I experienced remarkable moments that fueled my determination and resilience,” she said. “I achieved what I had worked tirelessly for during these past 15 months. I brought pride and joy to my family, supporters and my club.”

37th America’s Cup yacht races start in Jeddah

37th America’s Cup yacht races start in Jeddah
Updated 29 November 2023

37th America’s Cup yacht races start in Jeddah

37th America’s Cup yacht races start in Jeddah
  • Jeddah Yacht Club hosts the second preliminary sailboat race until Dec. 2
  • Saudi Sailing Federation’s CEO Samia Baghdadi said: “We aim for this championship to inspire Saudi athletes in water sports”

JEDDAH: The 37th America’s Cup yacht race started in Jeddah for the first time on Wednesday with the participation of six teams.
The second preliminary sailboat race continues until Dec. 2 at the Jeddah Yacht Club, under the organization of the Saudi Sailing Federation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports, a media statement said.
In this first-of-its-kind round outside Spain, the teams will compete to reach the podium and win the qualification round for the final, which will feature only two teams.
American Magic team won the round in Vilanova, northern Spain, in September with a slight lead over the other teams.
Samia Baghdadi, CEO of the SSF, said: “This comes as a continuation of a series of major sporting events hosted by the Kingdom during the past period, confirming its status as the preferred destination for sports and athletes from all over the world. Additionally, we aim for this championship to inspire Saudi athletes in water sports and contribute to achieving their targets and continuous growth.”
Grant Dalton, CEO of the America’s Cup, said: “We are proud and excited to host this round of the prestigious international yacht championship in Saudi Arabia … we constantly strive to contribute to making the Kingdom a new global center for water sports. We are also looking forward to witnessing its strong and exciting competitions in the Red Sea waters of Jeddah.”
The six teams competing include the defending champion, New Zealand’s Emirates, along with Ineos from Britain, American Magic representing the US, Italy’s Prada Pirelli, Red Bull Racing of Switzerland, and France’s Orient Express Racing.
The America’s Cup yacht race is one of the oldest international championships in water sports. It began 172 years ago and has been developing ever since, with the latest AC40 boats reaching speeds of 100 km an hour.
The organizing committee said that sports fans will be able to attend championship events for free by booking via, and can watch the action on large screens at the event venue, as well as visit the fan village.

Jeddah set to host second preliminary regatta of 37th America’s Cup 

Jeddah set to host second preliminary regatta of 37th America’s Cup 
Updated 27 November 2023

Jeddah set to host second preliminary regatta of 37th America’s Cup 

Jeddah set to host second preliminary regatta of 37th America’s Cup 

JEDDAH: Jeddah is preparing to host one of the most anticipated regattas in the sailing world as the America’s Cup comes to town between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2.

The regatta is taking place at Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina, one of the most modern in the Red Sea.

Emirates Team New Zealand will be defending their title against teams from the UK, Switzerland, France, Italy, and the US.

Participating teams alongside the defending champions include INEOS Britannia, Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, NYYC American Magic, and Orient Express Racing Team.

The race schedule will include three days of fleet races. The racing area is immediately offshore from the Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina, and races will be broadcast live on the America’s Cup YouTube channel.

The schedule is: Nov. 28, official practice; Nov. 29, official practice; Nov. 30, race day one — three fleet races; Dec. 1, race day two — three fleet races; Dec. 2, race day three — two fleet races, match race final (one race).

The event is backed by the Saudi Sailing Federation and the Ministry of Sport, in conjunction with Neom.

Both bodies are working in partnership with the America’s Cup to ensure that the event will be a “catalyst” to inspire local people, as well as helping to broaden access to the Red Sea, according to Samia Bagdady, CEO of the Saudi Sailing Federation.

The federation also plans to use the event to launch new initiatives to help as a key driver for the region’s top sailors of tomorrow to get the support and training they need to compete on the global stage.

Jeddah spectators and America’s Cup fans are eager to get a glimpse of the world’s finest foiling sailors as they engage for the first time in such a race on the Red Sea.

Hattan Halawani, 29, a resident of Jeddah, told Arab News that it was a great opportunity to see the top sailors competing.

He added: “We are really lucky to witness this highly anticipated event here in Jeddah and we are looking forward to spending an exciting time, starting on Wednesday.”

Spectators can watch the action on the big screen, and there will be daily entertainment, along with a merchandise store where fans can buy their favorite team kit while grabbing refreshments.

The yacht club’s top floor will give America’s Cup sponsors and guests VIP views overlooking the racing area.

Team bases will be next to the marina, with viewing spots adding an extra layer of excitement.

Spectators will be able to watch boats coming in and out of the marina as they head out or back from the racing, as well as having spectacular views from the Jeddah Corniche Race Village.