Investment in sports is one of the most important and successful sectors these days. It delivers enormous financial returns; not only in football but also in other individual and team sports.
As part of the Future Investment Forum, which was held in Riyadh, Princess Reema bint Bandar talked about “investment in sports”. As a vital sector it has not been given due economic and developmental attention in the Kingdom, until now. The share of investment allocated to sports in the Saudi GDP stands at a meagre 0.1 percent, which it seeks to raise to 0.8 percent in coming years.
Reema bint Bandar has presented an ambitious vision, based on a highly knowledgeable and coherent manner, which is more practical than theoretical. She has also shown that “geography” provide a specific space for highly specialized sports and projects to thrive.
Knowledge of geography helps identify the type of sports that could be played. For example, there are specific sports for different terrains, such as those related to the sea, rivers, mountains, deserts or forests. Different environments can be used for promoting different sporting activities to draw large following.
The most suitable sport for a region is closely linked to the environment in which people live in and is directly related to the climate and terrain of a place. These activities could help people derive health benefits through sporting activities, while sports could also beautify the topography and generate interest in taking care of the environment.
Health, economy, sociology, culture, psychology, life expectancy etc, are all positively affected by the development of disparate sporting venuesHassan Al Mustafa
It could help members of the society take part in a daily health routine and in building mental and physical strength as well as awareness about the concept of “geographical sports”.
Health, economy, sociology, culture, psychology, life expectancy etc, are all positively affected by the development of disparate sporting venues. A new economic cycle is created that also brings about change in lifestyle.
In her speech, Princess Reema said that what is more important than the economic “investment” benefits — whether it is from indigenous or foreign sources — is the development of human capital and general well being. Thus, school education and social awareness are two necessary aspects for the people to understand what “investment in sports” really entails. Accordingly, investors and capitalists would compete to invest in these projects.
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“There are consumers here as well as … job opportunities” stressed Reema. She encouraged investors to start working on these projects, and pointed out that several European, American and Asian countries have already done the same.
These projects can be integrated into the tourism sector. It could give a boost to hotels and hospitality industry, promote training centers, transportation, logistics development. There will be a new financial and developmental cycle that should not be underestimated. Investment in sports provides an opportunity for those with courage, foresight and faith in the human capabilities and the future of the country.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters. His twitter handle is @halmustafa.