Saudi Golf Federation CEO Majed al-Sorour announced during a panel at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia would play host to a Ladies European Tour golf tournament in March 2020.
Al-Sorour made the announcement on stage at the FII alongside four-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els, Ladies European Tour professional golfer Camilla Lenarth and Keith Pelle, CEO of the European Tour.
“It’s absolutely great to have an event here, it’s a positive change, and I love being part of that,” said Lenarth, adding “I can’t wait to come over here and play and hopefully help growing the game for women.”
“It’s just really positive to be over here playing next year,” she added.
The European Tour held its first tournament in Saudi Arabia earlier this year in January, with American professional golfer Dustin Johnson taking home top position.
Pelle said that the Middle East represents a very important part of the European Tour schedule, adding that, “The reason why the Middle East is so important is the climate is terrific, the amenities are first rate, and the golf courses are sensational.”
Al-Sorour said that the expansion of golf will attract “a lot of people – the sky is the limit,” to Saudi Arabia, alongside other tourism and entertainment projects such as Qiddiya, a new city dedicated to entertainment and sport being built outside Riyadh.
Investing in sports, entertainment, and tourism is central to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic plan, which aims to diversify the economy away from oil and prepare Saudi Arabia for the future.
Other major Vision 2030 projects currently under development include the Red Sea Project, involving the construction of islands in a tourism complex along the Red Sea coast, and Neom, a new megacity in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
Former world champion Els also voiced his support for the development of golf in the Kingdom. When asked about the prospect of building a golf course in Saudi Arabia, Els commented that “the topography of this place is amazing … I can just imagine the most amazing golf holes that we can build here in the Kingdom.”
“I believe we can build whatever you need you see, we can build in the Kingdom, it’s going to be very exciting,” he added.