Women participation in sports rose by 149% from 2015 in Saudi Arabia

News Network
June 20, 2020

Riyadh, Jun 20:  Speaking at an exclusive webinar organized by the London Business School’s (LBS) Riyadh Chapter, Saudi Arabia’s first sports minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal proudly reflected back on his nation’s sports achievements over the last few years.

Attended by over 170 people, the highest record set at an LBS webinar, various topics were discussed including the Kingdom’s sports strategy, investment opportunities, role of the media and advantages of hosting international sporting events, among other things.

Saudi Arabia has recently presented itself as one of the major players in the global sports industry thanks to its transformative Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy and create a more vibrant society.

Recognizing the importance of the vision, Prince Abdulaziz said: “Vision 2030 is something we all believe in. Everywhere you go within the Kingdom, you feel that people are passionate about the vision and its targets. Sport is part of it, and it has a big role in it.”

At the heart of the newly created Ministry of Sport’s strategy is increasing mass participation across all types of sports and preparing the next generation of elite athletes capable of competing on the international stage.

The ambitious prince asserted, “We want to make sure that we create an ecosystem that is sustainable, creates jobs, income and provides a lot of opportunities for everyone. We are creating academies around the Kingdom for kids to get into sports to make sure we have a base for them to start off from.”

Over 50 questions were addressed during the open and transparent webinar, a reflection of the attitude and culture the prince is creating at the Ministry. He admitted that while Saudi Arabia is a nation bound by a love and passion for sport, until recently sports has been looked at as a tool for entertainment rather than an important industry.

One of his key goals is to shift this mentality. Hosting major sports events has greatly contributed in doing so, he is a strong believer of their long-lasting impact and legacy.

“These events will shed light on enlightening people about certain sports and making sure they get attracted by it and enjoy it. From these events that we hosted, we found out there’s interest for tennis, golf, and boxing.”

“We will continue to host these events to make sure that people enjoy them as entertainment but to also make sure that people are passionate about these sports get to watch them live in the Kingdom and hopefully from that get someone passionate enough to participate,” he explained.

A former professional motorsports racer, Prince Abdulaziz was appointed chairman of the then-General Sports Authority at the start of 2019 after holding the position of vice chairman for the previous two years. Under his leadership, the Ministry of Sport doubled the number of its ever-growing sports federations and invested heavily at the grassroots level.

When asked about the significance of such investments, he said: “We give them [athletes] an opportunity to compete under the name of the Kingdom, to shine and make sure there’s a future for them. Today we look at a holistic view of sports. We use it to change certain mindsets and restrictions within the Kingdom to make sure we can evolve within the industry and complete against leading countries.”

The Riyadh Chapter of the London Business School aims to increase engagement and opportunities for LBS alumni in the Kingdom and to develop stronger ties that help build a better future for the business community.

Co-presidents Majed Al Hugail and Faris Al Shareef expressed their delight in hosting Prince Abdulaziz for the first time by saying: “The webinar was very insightful to the elite group of LBS alumni both locally and internationally. It helped them further understand how the Ministry is reshaping the sports sector as part of Vision 2030.

“The session left many of the attendees with a great sense of appreciation of the Ministry’s support to the community, an area where stronger partnerships can potentially be explored for the country and region’s benefits.”

In line with new progressive government policies, a lot of attention and investment has geared towards the inclusion of women in sports on both the elite and amateur levels.

When asked by an audience member about this matter, the sports leader proudly replied by saying: “We’ve seen an increase of active women participation in sports by about 149% from 2015 till today. Only five years ago, women were not allowed to participate in the street but it’s a completely different ball game today.”

A testament to this great progress is the participation of 22 women’s national teams in competitive regional games across a wide range of sports in recent years, in addition to newly incepted Women’s Football League.

Among the topics discussed during the 1-hour long webinar was the Ministry’s journey towards the privatization of some of its assets.

Highlighting the significant role that the private sector contributes towards future growth and development, the Minister said: “The private sector is a fundamental aspect for the evolution of sports within the Kingdom and anywhere else in the world. We have to make sure that the platform is open for the private sector to come in and play its role in increasing the number of participants and to add the number of clubs within the Kingdom.”

He continued: “It is our role to provide the right regulatory process. Today we are ready with a platform to make sure that we can deliver on this for the private sector and for the public. This will add towards the evolvement and the development of sports within the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia’s successful hosting of high-profile sports events attracted thousands of locals and visitors; it now has bigger plans to cement its strong position in the global sports industry. Among these plans include bids for two of the continent’s most sought after competitions, the 2027 AFC Asian Cup and 2030 Asian Games.

When asked about the reason behind them, he was confident in his response highlighting that Saudi Arabia has celebrated multiples trophies and medals in the past, but this is the first time that they’re aiming to host the events.

“It is time to do so. It’s unheard of that you win a competition but don’t host it. Saudi should host these events and we are capable of hosting them as a nation. It is something that our people are very passionate about, they love it and follow it. It will showcase what Saudi can do on the Asian front.”

Prince Abdulaziz recognizes Saudi Arabia’s recent sporting achievements, but he remains humble on his mission to use sports as a tool to tell his country’s story to the world and build a healthier, more vibrant society capable of nurturing athletes who can compete on the elite level for many years to come.

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News Network
June 16,2021

gaza.jpg

Israel has launched fresh air raids on the Gaza Strip after Palestinian groups in the besieged enclave sent incendiary balloons into southern Israel.

The raids early on Wednesday, June 16, come less than a month after Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza in May and followed a march in East Jerusalem by Jewish nationalists that drew Palestinian condemnation and anger.

The Israeli military said its aircraft attacked Hamas compounds in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis and said it was “ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza”.

The raids, the military said, came in response to the launching of the balloons, which caused 20 blazes in open fields in communities near the Gaza border.

A Hamas spokesman, confirming the Israeli attacks, told the Reuters news agency that Palestinians would continue to pursue their “brave resistance and defend their rights and sacred sites” in Jerusalem.

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties in Gaza as a result of the bombings.

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza, said Palestinian fighters said they had no orders from their commanders to respond to the latest raids.

He also noted that Hamas had not mentioned retaliation or a response to the attacks in their statement confirming the Israeli bombardment.

The Israeli raids were also the first on Gaza since a new coalition government, headed by right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett, took power over the weekend, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister.

The new government on Monday approved a “provocative” march by Israeli far-right nationalists and pro-settler groups through occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of people, waving flags and some chanting “Death to Arabs” paraded in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, drawing anger and condemnation from Palestinians.

In another anti-Arab chant, the Israeli demonstrators also yelled: “May your village burn.”

In a scathing condemnation on Twitter, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said those shouting racist slogans were “a disgrace to the Israeli people,” adding: “The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable.”

The so-called “March of the Flags” marks the anniversary of Israel’s 1967 occupation of the city’s eastern part, and came as tensions remain high over Israel’s planned forced displacement of Palestinian families from the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

In advance of the march, Israeli police forcibly removed dozens of Palestinians from outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate.

At least 17 Palestinians were arrested and 33 others were wounded as Israeli police fired stun grenades in the surrounding areas of Damascus Gate.

In May, Israeli air raids in Gaza killed at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, while rockets launched by Palestinian groups killed at least 12 people, including two children. The escalation ended after 11 days with an internationally-brokered ceasefire.

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News Network
June 17,2021

Jerusalem, June 17: Israeli forces have shot a Palestinian woman dead allegedly for attempting to carry out a car-ramming attack northeast of Jerusalem, according to the Israeli army.

Palestinian media, which identified the victim as doctoral student Mai Afanah, 29, from Abu Dis, said she was shot and left bleeding at the scene of the incident on Wednesday.

A military statement said the woman attempted to ram her car into a group of Israeli soldiers before exiting the vehicle with a knife near the town of Hizma, northeast of Jerusalem.

An Israeli soldier was slightly wounded, according to Israeli media.

The Palestinian health ministry said the woman died of her wounds.

“The Palestinian civil liaison informed the health ministry of the death of a woman shot by [Israeli forces] in Hizma,” it said in a statement, citing the body that coordinates with Israel on military and civilian issues concerning the occupied West Bank.

Videos shared on social media showed an abandoned car that allegedly belonged to Afanah at the entrance to the town.

Palestinian media reported that no ambulance arrived at the scene after she was shot.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in recent months allegedly for attempting to carry out stabbing or car-ramming attacks.

Palestinian rights groups accuse Israeli forces of deliberately killing Palestinians who pose no risk to their lives or safety.
 

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News Network
June 12,2021

Riyadh, June 12: Saudi Arabia has set new rules for those wishing to register for Hajj 2021. Due to pandemic, several stringent measures have been in place to contain the spread of infection during the annual pilgrimage season.

According to a tweet shared by Haramain, “The health status of those wishing to register for Haj 1442 must be from the following categories: a vaccinated person, a vaccinated person who has completed one dose and spent 14 days, or a vaccinated person recovering from infection.”

The kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims and allow them them to perform their rituals “easily and in a safe environment”, the Haj and Umrah ministry had said earlier.

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