Empowering Women’s Sports in Saudi Arabia According to Vision 2030

Historic Turning Point

Women’s sports in Saudi Arabia currently play a significant role in empowering women. It has garnered great attention.

Many female athletes are achieving numerous accomplishments and excelling in various sports such as football, basketball, swimming, taekwondo, athletics, and more, both domestically and internationally. They have received global and local awards for their achievements.

Historic Turning Point

It is important to note that women’s sports in Saudi Arabia began to flourish during the reign of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who made a historic decision in 2018 through the General Sports Authority. He allowed families, including women, to attend sports events. This decision broke down social barriers and restrictions that women faced; it had limited their personal growth and self-expression.

With various decisions and the Vision 2023, the sports landscape gradually changed, and sports became a powerful tool for women’s empowerment.

Women in the Sporting Arena

Women’s sports in the Kingdom provide a significant platform for women to showcase their talents and capabilities in various sports disciplines. They were deprived of attending sporting events in person for decades.

In 2011, women were allowed to attend events like the Formula E races at the Riyadh Street Circuit, and later, 15% of stadium seats were allocated for women.

Women also began to enter the field of sports journalism and participate in international tournaments. The Kingdom has been rewriting the narrative of women in sports.

Inspirational Role Models

At present, women in Saudi Arabia play a crucial role in sports both nationally and internationally. They inspire others with their numerous achievements and serve as role models for future generations. Their accomplishments does not only break stereotypes but also challenge societal perceptions of women’s capabilities and potential.

Distinguished Female Athletes

Women’s sports in the Kingdom have made a clear and distinguished mark due to the many female athletes who have won awards and achieved remarkable records in various fields. Their ambition, determination, support, and dedication have led to outstanding success and excellence in front of audiences and fans.

Saudi women proudly reign in the world of sports, leading in both the Saudi Women’s Football League and the Saudi Women’s National Team. All of this plays a crucial role in paving the way for more opportunities and equal representation for women in various aspects of life.

Government Initiatives

Paradigm Shift

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a significant transformation in its approach to women’s participation in sports. Several factors contribute to this change, including the Vision 2030 initiative, which aims to diversify the economy while promoting social reforms and women’s empowerment.

Promoting Women’s Sports

One of the driving forces behind this significant change is the Saudi government’s commitment to encouraging women’s participation in sports. Initiatives such as the establishment of women’s sports clubs, the inclusion of physical education classes for girls in schools, hosting women’s sports events, and creating women’s sports facilities have played a vital role in breaking down barriers.

Supporting Female Athletes

The government has also taken important steps to support women in pursuing professional careers in sports. Programs offering scholarships enable talented female athletes to receive specialized training and education in sports-related fields.

Milestones in Women’s Sports

The establishment of women’s football, basketball, and volleyball teams in 2003 marked a significant milestone in Saudi women’s sports. Additionally, in 2006, a women’s sports academy was established, and Saudi female athletes participated in the London 2012 Olympics, competing in judo and 800-meter running.

Athletes like Yasmin Al-Dabbagh, Lubna Al-Omair, Kariman Abu Al-Jadail, and Joud Fahmy have made notable contributions to Saudi women’s sports.

Expanding Opportunities

The most significant expansion of women’s participation in sports occurred in 2017 when King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud granted women the right to establish women’s sports clubs, subject to specific regulations and conditions.

This decision aimed to reduce female unemployment and create thousands of jobs. It aligned with the goals of Vision 2030, which seeks to increase sports participation in society, reaching one million Saudi athletes in the next 15 years, with the launch of 450 registered amateur clubs offering diverse activities.

Landmark Women’s Football League

Moreover, Saudi Arabia inaugurated its first women’s football league on October 4, 2019, in Jeddah. Six teams competed in a points-based system: Jeddah Eagles, The Storm, Jeddah Wave, King United, The White Lion, and Jeddah Black Stars. Each team consisted of 16 players, with eight on the field and eight on the bench.

Preparing for International Competition

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation also revealed a comprehensive development program for women’s football as part of Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2027 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. This initiative aims to encourage girls to start playing football and gradually elevate the standards of youth girls’ teams over the next four years. The Kingdom possesses the potential to compete at the international level.

Nurturing Young Talent

The school football league for girls has played a crucial role in identifying female talents in football, preparing them for participation in the Saudi Women’s League. These initiatives have contributed to raising awareness and educated generation that recognizes the importance of women’s sports in society, ultimately preparing them to compete in global competitions.

Investing in Future Stars

Additionally, the Ministry of Sports has launched initiatives to discover and train new talents in sports. This provides significant opportunities for aspiring female athletes. In July 2020, Saudi Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal unveiled plans for the Mahd Sports Academy, an ambitious project expected to become one of the world

Saudi Women’s Impact in Sports

Since the entry of women into the field of women’s sports, they have made a significant impact in the world of sports.

Notable Athletes

The names that have shone and left their mark in this field, such as Sara Attar, Alhassna Al-Hammad, Farah Jaffari, and Sara Al-Jumah, cannot be overlooked.

Pioneering Figures

Lina Al-Muaina is a pioneer in the field of women’s sports in the Kingdom. She is the founder of the Jeddah United Women’s Basketball Team and has played an active role in creating opportunities for Saudi women to participate in team sports.

Prominent Leadership

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan serves as a prominent figure in the sports field. Her efforts as the President of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Community Sports and Deputy President of the General Sports Authority for the Women’s Section have helped create around 250,000 jobs in women’s sports centers and clubs.

Breaking Barriers

For the first time in Saudi Arabia, Adwa Al-Arifi was appointed as the Assistant to the Minister of Sports, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, for sports affairs, and she also serves as the Deputy Minister for Strategic Planning and Sports Investment.

Success in Sports Arbitration

Saudi women have achieved unprecedented success in the field of sports arbitration. Anoud Al-Asmari became the first Saudi woman to attain this position, serving as a referee for women’s football.

International Achievements

Saja Kamal, a football player who has played internationally, made history by becoming the first Saudi woman to play for Arsenal’s women’s football team and by entering the Guinness World Records for a football match on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Changing Landscape

With increasing opportunities for Saudi women in sports, more names are poised to make a significant impact. The Kingdom has seen a rapid increase in the weekly activity rate of Saudi women, from 8% in 2015 to 19% in 2019, aligning with the goals of Vision 2030.

Saudi Women in Sports: Key Facts

Here are key facts related to Saudi women in sports, highlighting their growing role and achievements:

Royal Decree Impact

  • In 2018, a royal decree allowed families to enter stadiums, resulting in a 152% increase in attendance at sporting events.

Growing National Teams

  • There are now national women’s teams in 25 federations.

Community Involvement

  • 67% of community sports committees include female members.

Special Olympics Success

  • In 2019, 21 female athletes participated in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, earning 29 medals.

Growing Participation

  • By the end of 2019, over 2,400 female players were registered with sports federations.

Regional Achievements

  • In 2019, 66 female athletes competed in 8 sports, winning 11 medals during the Gulf Cooperation Council Women’s Games.

Arab Women’s Sports Tournament

  • In 2020, 72 female athletes marked the largest Saudi women’s delegation in the Arab Women’s Sports Tournament in Sharjah, winning 12 medals.

Fencing Achievement

  • Alhassna Al-Hammad won Saudi Arabia’s first-ever gold medal in fencing during the 2019 Asian Fencing Championship in Riyadh.

Bowling Debut

  • Saudi female bowling teams competed in the Women’s World Bowling Championships for the first time in 2019.

Paralympic Participation

  • Sara Al-Jumah qualified and competed in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which were postponed to 2021.

These achievements reflect the state’s significant efforts to promote women’s empowerment across various fields, including sports, and Saudi women’s accomplishments continue to grow in scientific, professional, educational, and other domains.

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