Saudi Arabia will stage a women’s squash tournament later this year with world champion Nour El Sherbini and eight-time world title winner Nicol David appearing in a rare public airing for women’s sport in the kingdom.
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) said the PSA Women’s Masters will be staged at Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh from October 29 to November 2.
“Following recent initiatives from the General Authority of Sports in Saudi Arabia to increase sporting participation and awareness across the country, the $165,000 tournament will play a crucial role in inspiring a new generation of Saudis to become active within sport,” said a PSA statement.
PSA Chairman and Saudi businessman Ziad Al-Turki said he hoped the event would encourage more women to take up squash.
“I’m hoping that this tournament will increase local participation in Saudi Arabia, and I look forward to working with all parties involved throughout the next six months insuring continued success for years to come.”
Saudi authorities have often come under fire from rights groups for their approach to women in sport as well as in everyday society.
Only four women featured in the Rio Olympics in 2016 for the Saudis after two were named in the team for London in 2012, the first time the Gulf nation had sent female athletes to the Games.
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, under secretary president of the Women’s Department of the General Authority for Sport in Saudi Arabia, added: “We look forward to growing the female participation of the sport of squash. It is a dynamic game that involves fast thinking and fast reaction times, skills that are well reflected in the women of Saudi Arabia.”
Masar Godolphin is an academic and operational based scholarship under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for young Emirati horse enthusiasts to travel to the UK and Ireland to undergo a course in the thoroughbred industry.
Commenting on the impact of Masar Godolphin, Hugh Anderson, Managing Director for Godolphin in the UK and Dubai, said: “The love of horses is part of the DNA of Dubai and this was reflected in the large number outstanding applications we received from UAE nationals who wanted to immerse themselves in the world of thoroughbred horse breeding and racing.”
The participants of the Masar Godolphin class of 2017 are: Abdulaziz Al Suwaidi, Amna Banihashem, Ayesha Al Fugaee, Hasna Ali, Hussain Al Marzouqi, Ibrahim Aqil, Muna Al Mazrouei and Sultan Al Amera.
Sports fans in the UAE have been reporting on Monday that service providers in the country – both du and Etisalat – have stopped broadcasting beIN Sports channels.
Subscribers attempting to access beIN Sports channels have been getting the message ‘This channel is unavailable’ on their screens.
The Qatari-owned network of sports channels is believed to have been blocked in the wake of news that six Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, UAE, Bahrain and Yemen, have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over alleged support of Islamist terrorist groups and relations with Iran.
The Gulf state called the decision “unjustified” and with “no basis in fact”.
Two weeks ago, the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain blocked Qatari news sites, including Al Jazeera.
The beIN Sports website is also inaccessible with the Emirates.
Etisalat customer service phone line has an automated message that says: “Dear Customer Al Jazeera news channels are currently not available on Elife TV. This is a generic issue and not related to your Elife TV. We regret the inconvenience.”
beIN Sports was originally launched as Al Jazeera Sport in 2003 before it was re-branded 10 years later.
Hi Bein, what's going to happen here in the UAE after developments today, my package has already terminated, I can't live without my Footie— Mike Deedigan (@Deda1011) June 5, 2017
beIN Sports owns the exclusive Middle East rights for the most important events in the world including the ongoing French Open tennis tournament, the NBA Finals, Formula One and all the major football competitions.
If the channels continue to be suspended, sports fans in the Emirates will have no legal alternative to follow such events.
beIN Sports executives have so far been unavailable for comment.
@Sport360 Now that BEIN is not working here, what other options do we have to watch RG? And everything else from football to basketball?— Patrick Speisser (@Spock1502) June 5, 2017
BXJSOJXJQIJXKX THEY ACTUALLY BLOCKED BEIN SPORTS BECAUSE OF QATAR— Hals (@emerxldpali) June 5, 2017
They doin football so dirty. Can't believe they blocked beIN sports on DU just because they're Qatari based 😒 pic.twitter.com/2buobKEYsY— Raseel (@falasteeniye) June 5, 2017
So stupid that @beINSPORTS is now blocked in the UAE due to political issues!! How am I supposed to watch the NBA Finals???????? Smh— Kareem Helbaoui 🏀 (@KHelbaoui) June 5, 2017
While beIN Sports channels remain available in Egypt, Sky News Arabia has reported that football giants Ahly and Zamalek are officially boycotting the network “effective immediately”.
Reputable Middle East football website Ahdaaf, meanwhile, tweeted that Saudi national team players and staff “have been banned from speaking to and appearing on Qatar-owned sports broadcasters beIN Sports and Al Kass“.
More to follow…