Sarah Attar. Al Hasnaa Al Hammad. Farah Jefry. Sarah Al Jumaah. These are among the first talented female athletes from Saudi Arabia to make their mark on the world of sport. With opportunities for Saudi women who have dreams of competing in the national and international sports scene abounding, they won’t be the last. The kingdom is changing, and it’s changing fast. Weekly activity of female Saudi citizens increased from 8 percent in 2015 to 19 percent in 2019, which is an uptick of more than 100 percent in just five years. The goal? 40 percent of the population exercising once a week by 2030.
“I’m looking forward to it — to being part of the change,” says Alanoud Mohammed Algheriri, who is a Portfolio Manager at the Ministry of Sport (MOS).
“The main purpose [of the Diversity & Inclusion initiative] is to empower women’s sport in different areas,” she says. According to Algheriri, this means providing access to facilities, providing coaching courses, supporting the federations for female sports, and engaging in local and international competitions. “We are trying to raise awareness about the importance of the female sports and how can they support us in, for example, delivering programs, sponsoring events and providing facilities.”
Saudi Facts: Saudi Women in Sports
● In 2018, a royal decree allowed families to enter stadiums. Attendance at sporting games increased by 152 percent.
● 25 federations now have a national women’s team.
● 30 federations have at least one female board director.
● 67 percent of the Community Sport Groups have members that are women.
● More than 2,400 female athletes were registered in federations by the end of 2019.
● 66 female athletes competed in eight sports and won 11 medals during the Gulf Cooperation Council Games in 2019.
● 21 female athletes competed in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019. They took home 29 medals.
● A female athlete from Saudi Arabia (Al Hasnaa Al Hammad) won a gold medal in fencing for the first time in Saudi history during the Asian Cadet Circuit - Riyadh 2019.
● Women from the Saudi Arabia bowling team competed in the World Bowling Women’s Championship for the first time in the history of Saudi bowling in 2019.
● 72 female athletes played during the Arab Women Sports Tournament in Sharjah in 2020, the largest female delegation in Saudi as of August 2020. They won 12 medals.
● Sarah Al Jumaah qualified and will compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which were moved to 2021.
● Saudi women’s teams played at the Global Goals World Cup in Copenhagen in May 2019, and in New York in September 2019.
Source: The MOS