Saudi Princess Reema: Sports not just about athletes, but economic empowerment
Building the sports industry is not just about helping athletes but building an ecosystem around them that would lead to economic empowerments of both men and women through job creations, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud told the Middle East Institute recently.
Princess Reema also told MEI Vice President Kate Seelye that her mandate as vice-president at the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia was to tie the industry together to create what she called a value-chain through her programs.
“There is no more interesting and dynamic place to work than the sports sector. Any job you can imagine can involve sports; like sports marketing, sports medicine. It is more than the athletes. They are wonderful and the pulse that keeps everything going but the job creation around that in infrastructure, in training, in development, it is all there,” she said.
“When we talk about the economic value of sports is bigger than the athletes, it is there. It is also in retail, design, manufacture. The athlete is the heart of the whole process, so there is the development and training of the athletes as well, from young people to prime athletes and the rehabilitation post-athletic career,” she added.
Princess Reema was also asked about the opening up of Physical Education classes for girls across the Saudi kingdom and what the future holds for female athletes after four women as were sent to the Olympics in 2016 as wild cards.
“Today, there are roughly at an elite level about 25 teachers who have been trained while 400 have gone through a program for the Olympic days that we are actively hosting at the Sports Authority. We have 30 schools participating in the capital Riyadh where 3,000 young women and 400 teachers were trained to lead these physical activities and that is something last year that no one could have imagined would be true,” she said.
She contended that while only 3,000 participated this year, the hope was for that number to continue growing exponentially year-on-year.