Saudi Arabia lost the 2022 World Cup. But the sports sector is winning.


December 2, 2022

Saudi Arabia lost the 2022 World Cup. But the sports sector is winning.

Alotaibi of Lujain

The match between Saudi Arabia and Argentina at the 2022 World Cup turned into one of the biggest upsets in Argentina’s history, with the two-time champions suffering their first defeat. thirty-six games. On the day of the match on November 22, Saudi ministries, government agencies, schools and universities were targeted. The end early business hours so that people can watch the game. King Salman after the Saudi victory announced the next day is a national holiday.

Saudi Arabia’s victory brought joy not only to Saudi Arabia but also to the region, with social media users from other Arab countries sharing videos of how they reacted to the victory of the Saudi national team. For journalist Sara Daduch to put: “The Arab world in particular witnessed a rare moment of collective jubilation.”

The outcome of the game was not accidental. Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sports of Saudi Arabia informed, the team had been preparing for that moment for three years. The Ministry’s efforts to promote and support football represent its general direction and purpose.

The sports sector is one of the vital pillars of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and the efforts of the Ministry of Sports are tangible in Saudi Arabia, which can be seen in improving the environment and increasing participation of citizens in sports. This change did not happen overnight, and it is partly the result of the desire to support the community in sports and entertainment and to compete at the international level.

Implications for the Kingdom

As part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia made sports a priority in 2016. Since then, Saudi Arabia’s sports sector has undergone major reforms under the leadership of the three countries. main purpose: Increase community sports participation by 40 percent by 2030, improve the success of elite Saudi athletes abroad, and support the sports economy.

Today, sports are indeed at the center of the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons. One of the goals of the 2030 goals is to make the kingdom a regional center Dedicated to the best professional sports events with significant national impact, including job creation. 2020, according to the Ministry of Sports report, the sports industry created more than fourteen thousand jobs that year. What’s more, the new sports offering has seen a 129 percent increase in jobs at sports clubs in three years. Between 2018 and 2021, administrative jobs increased by 156 percent, while opportunities to work in sports increased by more than 114 percent.

The economic impact of tourism is another key benefit of hosting sporting events in the Kingdom, as these events contribute to increasing the number of foreign tourists from around the world who can spend money and boost the Saudi Arabian economy. According to the ministry, the 2020 sports events have been created 36.9 million Saudi riyals ($9.8 million) in ticket revenue and visitor spending. Furthermore, the sports industry generally contributes to hotel spending and the hospitality industry. Hotel occupancy in Riyadh increased 58 percent in the first eight months of 2022 and 52 percent of Jeddah’s population, an increase of almost 13 percent from last year due to the pandemic. Both Jeddah and Riyadh held events during the first eight months of 2022. Formula E, Formula 1and Fury at the Red Sea. As the country opens up to major sporting events, the number of residents will continue to grow.

Sport has the power to unite people all over the world. Therefore, opening up the country and supporting sports success and fans has economic consequences for the Kingdom and is very important for soft power in international bridge building. Saudi Arabia has been a closed country for many years, with little support for tourism and international visitors, leading to cultural misperceptions. Bringing people in and allowing them to physically experience their country is critical to success.

Created more opportunities

One of the biggest obstacles to the development of sports in Saudi Arabia has been the low participation of women. Top-down reforms have helped to solve this problem. In 2018 families-not only male participants – were allowed to enter the stadium. The number of participants in sports events increased 152 percentage after this change. In order to attract women to sports, the Ministry of Education A decision In 2017, implementation of sports lessons in girls’ schools, which was previously lacking in public schools. All of these reforms have helped to dramatically increase women’s participation in sports 150 percent 2015 is 2019. Today the Kingdom is better six thousand female athletess and twenty-seven women’s sports teams.

In addition, in order to create the right infrastructure, the Ministry of Sports of Saudi Arabia facilitates and enables services. One such service for the development of the sports industry in Saudi Arabia is the platform NafesEstablished in 2021 to help streamline the licensing process for private sector clubs. today, 30 A percentage of private clubs and academies are reserved for women. In terms of enabling Mahd Sports Academy It was established to discover and develop talent from a young age to create a group of sports champions in all regions and cities of Saudi Arabia over a period of ten years. Offering world-class coaching and mentoring to Saudi Arabia’s homegrown talent from an early age demonstrates the country’s commitment to success in the industry.

Another important aspect is the role played by the Minister of Sports, Prince Abdulaziz, in promoting the interest of sports in Saudi Arabia by providing huge support to athletes. Prince Abdulaziz is an athletic, well-respected and part of the kingdom’s young leaders. He is very active on social media and has over 650k followers Twitter and more than 260 thousand Instagram followers. The minister shares personal videos, such as those shown to him exercise at home during epidemics or another shows off his tennis skills.

Many Saudi athletes took to social media to share photos and videos of Prince Abdulaziz’s athletes advising, participating in their training, and supporting them. Furthermore, when the ministry initiates initiatives such as charity walks, the minister is usually on the spot. participating with citizens. Such consistent leadership and commitment represent a new approach for government to engage with its young population, which is vitally important. 70 percent not yet reached the age of thirty in the kingdom. The minister was also recognized by Crown Prince Mohammed interview, which has affected how Saudis view the sports industry and the minister. This was also seen in the presence of many Saudi Arabians shared a video posted on Twitter Titled “Secret of national team’s victory”, the sports minister was quoted after Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina.

Moreover, the ministry has allocated a large budget to the sports sector, as shown by the fact that more than 100 people competed in the Saudi Arabian Sports Festival. 200 million from Saudi Arabia rial ($53 million). The Saudi Arabian Games was the largest national sporting event in the history of Saudi Arabia. More than six thousand Participants representing more than two hundred clubs across the Kingdom competed in forty-five individual and team sports in Riyadh 2022, including five Paralympic sports. Gold medalists won 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals ($266,600), while silver and bronze medalists received 300,000 Saudi Arabian riyals ($80,000) and 100,000 Saudi Arabian riyals ($26,600). The award is the largest in the region’s history for sports.

Open borders but keep Saudi culture strong

To host large-scale sporting events, tourism and entertainment facilities for tourists are required. And that’s exactly what happened when Saudi Arabia announced it would host the 2018 Formula E electric car race the first The Formula E race will take place in the Middle East. This was a challenge at the time as Saudi Arabia had strict border rules and needed to welcome a global audience to host a global event like Formula E. As a result, Saudi Arabia offered tourist visa for the first time in history. The success of this event allowed the country to open its borders to tourists and create an online visa process At the end of 2019.

One concern for years is that Saudi Arabia could lose its national identity if it opens up too quickly. However, this has not happened. For the Formula E race, the Saudi leadership specifically chose to host it in the ancient city of Diriya, the original seat of the Saudi monarchy. During 2021 Dakar Rallya video A video of a group of Bedouin performing a traditional welcome dance for marchers in the desert has gone viral, with participants gathering around them. camel. Bedouins would receive visitors in the middle of the road until they arrived for coffee.

Another important event was the Saudi Cup horse race. “Fashionable dress code” was issued in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Fashion Commission.Saudi Cup” organized to highlight local culture and enhance national heritage at major international events. This guide was designed to showcase clothing for men and women inspired by traditional styles Saudi clothing. Efforts to celebrate Saudi identity include choosing historic venues for events, establishing traditional dress codes, and promoting Saudi values.

Although Saudi Arabia officially released Following the Nov. 30 loss to Mexico, the government’s approach to celebrating Saudi Arabia’s national identity during the 2022 World Cup showed progress in construction. In the past, Saudis watched the World Cup at home with their families. Now, governments and the private sector have designed facilities with giant screens to be accessible to all members of society. support national team. The atmosphere In Saudi Arabia, between the first match on November 22 and the final on November 30, it was almost a week-long Saudi national day. The public waved the Saudi flag, wore Saudi T-shirts and sang the Saudi national anthem in restaurants, malls and coffee shops.

Saudi Arabia and its Ministry of Sports have gone through major milestones in promoting young talent, increasing women’s participation and preserving Saudi culture while hosting international sporting events. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is building the necessary infrastructure for its people to compete globally and host global sporting events. In fact, Saudi Arabia submitted a request to host the Asian Football Confederation 2026 Women’s Asian Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup. Some media It was also reported that Saudi Arabia is preparing to submit a request to host the 2030 World Cup.

Time will tell if Saudi Arabia will become the second Arab country to host the World Cup. Regardless of the outcome, Saudi Arabia is making steady progress in developing its sports industry.

Alotaibi of Lujain Project Coordinator, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. Follow him on Twitter: @LM_Otaibi.

Further reading

Picture: Soccer Soccer – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Fans at Souq Waqif – Doha, Qatar – December 1, 2022. Fans hold the flag of Saudi Arabia after the Canada-Morocco match as Morocco advance to the knockout stage REUTERS/ Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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