Al-Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic wants to see SPL among world’s top 5 leagues

Special Al-Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic wants to see SPL among world’s top 5 leagues
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Updated 12 January 2024
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Al-Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic wants to see SPL among world’s top 5 leagues

Al-Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic wants to see SPL among world’s top 5 leagues

RIYADH: Vladimir Stojkovic, goalkeeper for Saudi Pro League side Al-Fayha Club, wants to see the league become one of the world’s top five in the next 10 years. 

Speaking on Arab News’ “The Mayman Show” podcast from the club’s Al-Majma’ah pitch, the 40-year-old Serbian shot-stopper pointed out the league’s increasing strength as more big-name players – such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Neymar – make their mark in Saudi football.   

While he has only been in the Kingdom for just over two years, he has noticed the increasing global interest in the league and observed a shift in attitudes toward a growing affection for it. 

 

 

He said top players from the national team of his home country had started joining the league, a situation that helped motivate him to elevate his game to the highest level, especially when playing against the best. 

The increased competition made matches more intense, competitive, and enjoyable, he added. 

Before achieving an historic win with his club in the 2022 King’s Cup competition, Stojkovic had played for Red Star Belgrade in Serbia, FC Nantes in France, Vitesse in the Netherlands, Sporting of Portugal, Getafe in Spain, Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest in England, Partizan Belgrade in Serbia, Ergotelis in Greece, and Maccabi Haifa in Israel. 

 

 

He began playing football at the age of 13, and from that point onward, his entire life revolved around the sport. 

He noted that the only challenge he faced as a kid was occasionally being late for other activities because he was always playing football, from early morning until late at night. 

His family had always inspired him to pursue a career in football. His father and brother played as goalkeepers, his mom was an athlete for the former Yugoslavian national team, and his nephew now plays in goal for Saudi side Al-Faisaly. 

Stojkovic said: “It is a difficult life; it is not easy like people think — just go on the pitch and shoot the ball and that’s it. If you play for a big club, the expectation is big, 3 million people want something from you … and every day, a new challenge. 

 

 

“If you are at a big club, you have pressure, pressure, and pressure and also they expect from you something different because you are a foreigner, and wherever you go you have to be different and play good,” he added. 

When playing for Partizan, rival of Red Star Belgrade, he lived under 24/7 police protection. 

“I woke up in the morning, and the police guys were waiting for me outside. They would go with me to training and after training, bring me back or accompany me to a restaurant. They had to go with me, to follow me, 24 hours,” he said. 

But now he is enjoying his time in the Kingdom and taking every opportunity to explore Saudi Arabia and sample its local cuisine. 

 

 

“Saudi has everything. I’m happy here because I have very good competition, and play in a very good league,” Stojkovic added. 

On his secret to achieving success, he said: “You must have passion. You have to be crazy for the football and never give up. After that, the way to the top is long, you have to survive. You need to keep on fighting. 

“You never know when someone will see your talent, maybe at school or maybe on the park.”

 

 


Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry

Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry
Updated 12 sec ago
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Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry

Visa holders can’t enter Makkah during Hajj season — Saudi interior ministry
  • Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits can enter Makkah
  • Interior ministry says penalties to be imposed on anyone violating the rules

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced visit visa holders will not be allowed to enter or remain in Makkah during the Hajj season.
Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits may do so, with penalties imposed on anyone violating the rules.
The ministry emphasized that visit visas did not give the holder permission to perform Hajj. It also urged visitors currently in Saudi Arabia to avoid travel to Makkah during the specified period.
“Violators will be subject to penalties according to the Kingdom’s regulations,” said a statement from the ministry.
Earlier, the Ministry of Interior said it would start imposing fines amounting to $2,666 on anyone, including Saudi citizens, caught entering Makkah without a Hajj permit between June 2-20.


First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj

First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj
Updated 8 min 48 sec ago
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First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj

First group of Yemeni pilgrims arrive for Hajj

RIYADH: The first Yemeni pilgrims to the Kingdom to perform Hajj this year arrived through Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport.

The Saudi government simplified the Yemeni visitors’ travel with immigration officers ensuring entry procedures were carried out smoothly, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom’s General Directorate of Passports “has exerted every effort to ensure that the entry of pilgrims is facilitated, equipping all international border crossings with advanced technology and trained staff proficient in different languages spoken by pilgrims,” the report added.

Saudi Arabia in 2019 launched the Makkah Route Initiative to help Hajj pilgrims from seven countries — Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkiye and Ivory Coast — with their visa, customs and passport requirements.

The government program issues visas electronically and collects biometric data, carrying out all travel procedures at the airports of the countries of departure, including ensuring that pilgrims have a clean bill of health. Baggage is coded and sorted to meet the transport and accommodation arrangements while pilgrims are in the Kingdom.

King Salman earlier ordered the hosting of 2,322 Hajj pilgrims, a group that includes 1,000 family members of Palestinians killed or wounded by Israel or held in Israeli prisons.


Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season
Updated 29 May 2024
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Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

Visa holders may not enter Makkah around Hajj season

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced visit visa holders will not be allowed to enter or remain in Makkah during the Hajj season.

Between May 23 and June 21, only pilgrims with Hajj permits may do so, with penalties imposed on anyone violating the rules.

The ministry emphasized that visit visas did not give the holder permission to perform Hajj. It also urged visitors currently in Saudi Arabia to avoid travel to Makkah during the specified period.

“Violators will be subject to penalties according to the Kingdom’s regulations,” said a statement from the ministry.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior said it would start imposing fines amounting to $2,666 on anyone, including Saudi citizens, caught entering Makkah without a Hajj permit between June 2-20.


Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact

Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact

Saudi Arabia and Austria sign economic-cooperation pact
  • The pact was inked at the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee in Vienna
  • The parties aim to encourage cooperation in trade, industry, research and development, tourism, and small and medium enterprises

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Ministry of Economy and Planning has signed a cooperation agreement with its Austria counterpart, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pact was inked at the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee in Vienna between the Kingdom’s Economy and Planning Minister Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim and Austria’s Labor and Economy Minister Martin Kocher.

The parties aim to encourage cooperation in trade, industry, research and development, tourism, and small and medium enterprises.

The countries will also organize conferences and seminars featuring experts in their fields.

The parties are committed to protecting mutual intellectual property rights, the SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia and Austria first signed economic, commercial, industrial and technology agreements in 2004.


Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership

Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership

Saudi Arabia reelected to Global Research Council leadership
  • The governing board voted unanimously to reelect Vice Chairman Munir bin Mahmoud Eldesouki at the body’s 12th annual meeting

RIYADH: The Kingdom has retained its leadership position in the Global Research Council, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The governing board voted unanimously to reelect Vice Chairman Munir bin Mahmoud Eldesouki at the body’s 12th annual meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland this week.

The reelection to this position, for the second time since the body’s establishment in 2012, confirms the council’s confidence in Saudi Arabia, the SPA reported.

The council highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts in promoting research, development and innovation in the Middle East North Africa region, the report added.

The council comprises heads of research institutions that fund projects globally.