Female Saudi athletes shine at Arab sports tournament



Female Saudi athletes won five medals in karate – four bronze and one silver-as they made their debut in many events at the fourth Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), held in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a press release from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information’s Center for International Communication.

Ghaya Al Khaled won a silver in the “under 68kg” category, while Amna Daftardar won two bronzes in the ‘under 55kg’ category. Manal Al Zayd and Budoor Sarhan won one each in the ‘Individual kata’ and 'above 68kg' categories, respectively.

Saudi Arabia competed in the Arab region’s largest women’s sports competition in five categories: Basketball, table tennis, fencing, athletics and karate. In the past, the country only had limited is participation in show-jumping.

“Saudi women have always played a crucial part in the kingdom’s social and economic life as a driving force behind growth in all domains and are now an integral part of the kingdom’s sporting world as well,” said Princess Reema Bint Bandar, the first woman appointed to head a Saudi sports federation, the Saudi Federation for Mass Participation, who also serves as Deputy for Planning and Development at the General Sports Authority.

Women basketball players in action at the Arab Women's sports Tournament in Sharjah, UAE.

The Saudi women’s basketball team, Jeddah United, delivered a spectacular performance during their debut at the Arab Women’s Sports Tournament, notwithstanding their loss to Kuwait Al Fatah 55–82. Jeddah United played their third match against Bahraini Al Mawaheb on Monday.

Jeddah United was established in 2006 by Leena Khaled Almaeena, member of the Saudi Shura (Consultative) Council, to promote professional basketball, football and other sports for boys and girls. The club aims to promote sports among women and youth within the framework of religion and culture by providing training and sports events. The club seeks to groom players who can compete in international events.

For Al Maeena, “Women's sports are a positive force and should be an integral part of every young woman's life.”

Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, president of the Arab Sports Council and Head of the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees, recently commented: “The participation of Saudi delegations in AWST is in the interests of the Saudi government as it will help with the development of the women’s sports sector and encourage players to participate in all competitions that will enhance their presence in the Arab region.”

The 11-day event, which ended on Monday, brought together 69 clubs from 17 Arab countries taking part. Themed "The World is Your Court, Together Victorious," the tournament, organized by the Sharjah Women’s Sports Foundation (SWSF), was held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawahar bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of SWSF. AWST is held every two years.

Saudi women’s basketball team Jeddah United pose for a photo during the Arab Women Sports Tournament in

Sharjah, UAE.

Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of AWST’s Supreme Organising Committee, head of its Executive Committee and Director General of SWSF, had earlier said that “the participation by Saudi Arabia in ASWT 2018 is a significant addition to the involvement of Arab women’s clubs in the tournament.”

She lauded the great attention and care given by Saudi women’s sports associations in developing the skills of its country’s female athletes and in expanding the scope of their engagement in Arab and global sporting events.

“Seeing Saudi sportswomen participating underscores the dedication and commitment of all sporting organizations across the Arab world and the importance of developing female athletes in all competitions,” she said.

“This is a great stride forwards in bridging the gap between Arab competitors and their peers from around the world, particularly bearing in mind that all of the AWST sports are featured in the Olympics.”