JEDDAH: Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki is predicting a very bright future for golf in Saudi Arabia as the country prepares to once again welcome the world’s top stars to the Kingdom at the end of the month.
After a knockout 2019 of sport for Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom is teeing up more game-changing events this year with golf’s Saudi International, powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, returning to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) from January 30 — February 2nd.
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki, the chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia, believes the European Tour event, billed as ‘The Ultimate Day Out’, will inspire a new generation of golfing talent and in turn get more Saudis participating in sport.
“Having young Saudi golfers compete against the world’s best creates new role models for sports fans in Saudi Arabia and it’s an exciting time for golf to really take off in the country.
“We are seeing more and more young people take an interest in golf, whether its watching or picking up a club for the first time through the efforts of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi. It’s an addictive game that really hooks people in.”
The 2020 Saudi International will boast the strongest golf line-up on the Middle East swing with world number one Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Henrik Stenson just some of the global stars playing.
They will be joined by Saudi’s top players including Othman Almulla, Saud Alsharif and Faisal Al Salhab who will also be in KAEC competing.
Sporting participation continues to flourish throughout the Kingdom, with young children looking to emulate the football stars of the MBS League (Saudi Pro League) and an increase of female participation in athletics — 76% of under-15s have become ‘active or semi-active’ due to Physical Education in schools.
Golf Saudi will ensure that 50% of the Saudi population has access to golf facilities within a one-hour drive by 2030 with 1 million Saudi nationals also set to try golf for the first time in the next decade.
HRH Prince Abdualziz added: “Anybody can play golf — young or old Saudis can take it up at any stage bringing families and strangers together through sport.”
“A full family could take up golf together, a father, mother, son and daughter can all play against each other in the same game, or groups of friends can get involved at local clubs.
“Just look at the Championships at the end of the month where we will see our bright hope 20-year-old Saud Alsharif facing legends of the global game like Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, who have been playing golf for decades – it’s incredible how diverse the sport is and how much you can learn from it.”
“Sport has a unique power to educate people, golf teaches so many values which you can take from the course into everyday life, whether it’s a classroom or a working environment – characteristics like discipline, concentration and resilience.”
Echoing the Prince is top golfing amateur Turki Al Hussain, part of the Saudi National team, who took the sport up at a young age and now combines his golf alongside a job in the banking sector.
“When I was young I was playing tennis and my father said ‘why not try golf so you can play both’ so I started playing twice a week and then I met the Saudi team coach and he asked me to join and then I kept going.
“I have seen many young people playing golf, men and women and I think golf is becoming big with more courses. Golf is a good sport to be in with a good environment and it’s a chance to meet other people.”
Fans of all ages can enjoy the Saudi International four-day sporting spectacular which promises fun for all the family and ‘The Ultimate Day Out’. The tournament is placing a special focus on developing the country’s future golfing pedigree, and is encouraging children, men and women to come along and give golf a try.
While the live golf will take center-stage, the off-course spectator village will run in tandem throughout and be packed with interactive, family fun experiences, plus a delicious selection of food trucks and pop-ups.
Once the sun sets, three days of golf will be followed by unforgettable live concerts. Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams, Belgian born DJ duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Grammy Award–winning DJ Zedd, flamenco favorites the Gipsy Kings and Puerto Rican music sensation Luis Fonsi – the man behind global megahit ‘Despacito’ — will all take to the stage across tournament weekend.
Tickets are now on sale for the Saudi International, priced at 50 SAR per day or 160 SAR for a full tournament pass (four days). Exclusive concert tickets will be available soon.
For more tournament information, visit www.saudiinternational.com