SPORT

The princess who plans to change Saudi sports

Princess Reema bint Bandar Bin Sultan urged members of the private sector and young entrepreneurs to reach out and invest in sector. (Saudi Gazette)

Women’s participation in sports has the potential to create 250,000 jobs, according to Vice President of Women’s Affairs of the General Authority of Sports Princess Reema bint Bandar Bin Sultan.

“It’s time to include women in sports for a healthier society and a productive economy,” she said addressing the MiSK Global Forum on the second day here on Wednesday.

“We — especially women — must incorporate physical fitness in our lives,” said Princess Reema, who assumed office on Aug. 1.

“Our role is to allow this nation more opportunities for physical fitness and health and to create healthy citizens. We’re a partner in the health sector,” she said.

Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar competes in a women's 800-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (AP)

Sports is part of the larger economy, she added, urging members of the private sector and young entrepreneurs to reach out and invest in the sports sector. 

Change agent 

Sports has the power to change society, according to renowned athlete and philanthropist Dikembe Mutombo, chairman and president of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation.

“Keeping our women healthy is a challenge. We need to invest for women at a young age. The more the investment, the more the productivity.”

Asked what to expect for women’s sports in the coming years, Princess Reema said, “The goal is to offer women the opportunity to engage more.”

Team Saudi Arabia walks in the arena during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP)

“What exists today is an army of enthusiastic women who understand the value for this country,” she said. “We need to invest in unity and team spirit.”

“As the labor force increases, we need to diligently practice skills. I have noticed that the private sector is engaged. They’re looking for someone to provide a roadmap. Our culture is different and our needs are different,” she said. 

Social rewards 

The General Authority of Sports seeks to work with entrepreneurs and unlock many sectors in sports, including manufacturing, retail, tourism, the repair industry, sports journalism and more.

“If we want to have an elite team, we need to invest in school and post-school level children. Today we may not have the expertise. But we need to create the business that trains people,” Princess Reema said.

Princess Reema is the daughter of of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. (Archives)

The rewards are not only financial, but also social. Sports help build an integrated and healthy family. “We are a family-oriented and a mobile people,” she said, adding, “Only recent history has made us sedentary.”

She invited partners to invest and help create a sports ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

This report was published in Saudi Gazette on Nov. 17, 2016

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Last Update: Thursday, 17 November 2016 KSA 17:27 - GMT 14:27
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