Saudi Arabia to host first sports events for women


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host professional golf tournaments for women for the first time ever in November at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah.

The Saudi Ladies International will be the first Ladies European Tour (LET) event to take place in the country and will run from Nov 12-15, with a purse of $1 million, the third-highest paying event after the British and Scottish Open.

It was originally scheduled for March but postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is set to attract more than 100 participants, including Wales’ Amy Boulden, who won her maiden LET event at this month’s Swiss Open.

It will be followed by the Nov 17-19 Saudi Ladies Team International, in which professionals will team up with amateurs and compete for a purse of $500,000.

The events will be Saudi Arabia’s third and fourth professional tournaments in the past two years, having staged the Saudi International men’s event in 2019 and 2020.

“We are extremely excited to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia and we are thankful to their commitment to deliver not one but two tournaments, in what has been a difficult year for golf,” LET CEO Alexandra Armas chief said.

Women’s rights are a contentious issue in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most gender-segregated nations. Democracy advocacy group Freedom House has rated it as one of the worst in the world for restricting freedom, political rights and civil liberties.

“We are always looking to grow the game in new markets and add to our schedule and we are confident that the Saudi Ladies International and the Saudi Ladies Team International will be a fantastic experience for our players,” Armas added.

Saudi Arabia has hosted several sporting events recently, including the heavyweight boxing title rematch between Britain’s Anthony Joshua and Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr in 2018, as well as the Italian Super Cup in 2018 and 2019.