Saudi Focus: Ready, Saudi, go – by Fusion5’s Abdulelah Shaher Al Nahari

Fusion5’s Abdulelah Shaher Al Nahari writes how the sports culture in the Kingdom has transformed in recent years

By Abdulelah Shaher Al Nahari, director of business development – KSA, Fusion5

Many things have changed in Saudi Arabia since the inception of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030, and we can all observe the difference. Prince Mohammed is passionate about the growth and support of youth, sports and overall quality of life. The advancement of sports is one of the most apparent shifts in the country. Prince Mohammed has placed a great deal of trust in Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al Faisal, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports, and that faith has been proven correct. He is both young and energetic, and his accomplishments are noteworthy. He was one of the first Saudi athletes to compete in international events and inspired many Saudis to compete at the same level as he did. His contributions to the sports field are impressive and should be recognised.

The sports scene was able to get this momentum going through the restructuring of the active sports federations, concentrating on their growth, providing them with the appropriate funding and electing young CEOs and board members who are passionate and competent. People we knew or heard of while growing up, either because we went to school with them or we worked professionally with them, had an unusual or peculiar enthusiasm for other sports at that time. Back then, most of us simply watched football and had no idea what the difference between jiu-jitsu and Greco Roman was, but some of them were watching or competing in MMA, golf or tennis and had gained a wealth of knowledge about each discipline. Then, announcements were made regarding the establishment of new sports federations, one of which was for Saudi Esports, along with others. 

On the other hand, the establishment of fully government-funded sports enterprises served as a means of assisting sports in the development of their respective ecosystems with the goals of driving job creation, producing commercial possibilities and producing revenue streams.

The most important factor that led to the expansion of athletics in the country was the historic decision to let women in the country participate in sports. This decision was a game-changer for the overall advancement of sports. These young female athletes are paving the way for young people of the future generations to follow in their footsteps and break limitations.

This past month, we had the opportunity to witness the fruit of the labour that has been going on, and the signal of change that is the largest national sporting event, known as the Saudi Games. During the competition, over 6,000 competitors competed in more than 45 different sports. Both male and female participants made up the amateurs and professionals in this tournament. It was incredible in every way, and not only did it engage our pride and enthusiasm, but it also represented a turning point in the history of sports in the country. Seeing all these talented women representing their teams and competing was an inspiring sight.

The torch relay began in Riyadh and continued to a total of 17 different cities across the Kingdom. The torch travelled all over the country. It was done in a way that allowed everyone to participate, and residents from each city joined in the celebrations. It was a beautiful way to celebrate. Athletes from each city took turns carrying the torch and making their way to a variety of historical sites and landmarks while being celebrated by the people of their own city.

Former athletes were made to feel relevant and respected at the Saudi Games by including them in the celebrations and allowing them to share their knowledge with future champions.

This contributed to the success of the Saudi Games. This well-attended national competition brought together competitors from all walks of life. It is a catalyst for the development of a sports culture, which is vital for a strong nation.

Our nation will create athletes of world-class calibre, who will go on to win gold. We are already seeing the positive effects on society as well as the sporting community. And we expect better things to happen in the future. Future iterations of the Saudi Games may include younger age groups, showcase various regional talent, or possibly feature competitors from around the world.

I believe that the Saudi Games will continue to grow and become one of the most well-known names in sporting competitions over the world.