Saudi Arabia is taking new measures to develop its sports sector, as the kingdom seeks to diversify its economy.
On Monday, the Saudi cabinet approved new regulatory arrangements for the General Authority for Sports in a bid to develop the country’s sports sector, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The move will see the authority “expand the base of its participants, give Saudi sports a push in domestic and international arenas, encourage all segments of the society to practice different kinds of sports, spread the culture of benevolence and social partnership in the sports field and encourage investment in the sports field,” the report said.
It will also encourage the authority to take suitable actions to combat doping in the field of sports and contribute along with relevant authorities to promote sports medicine, it added.
In November, it was reported that Saudi’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) had directed the General Authority of Sports to create a Sports Development Fund within three months.
The fund’s objectives include: providing loans and facilities for sports clubs, promoting sports events, contributing to privatise sports clubs, and setting up and financing multi-purpose sports incubators under an institutional umbrella to create as many as 40,000 jobs for Saudis, according to local media reports.
CEDA also approved the formation of a committee to undertake the privatisation of sport clubs that participate in professional league tournaments.
Saudi Arabia is heavily focussing on diversifying its economy away from oil.
Its ambitious Vision 2030 seeks to bolster and develop new industries and sectors in the kingdom, including sports.
Under the plan, the kingdom hopes to increase the number of people exercising regularly from 13 per cent of the population to 40 per cent over the next five years.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said: “A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an essential mainstay of a high quality of life. Yet opportunities for the regular practice of sports have often been limited. This will change. We intend to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities, working in partnership with the private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities and programmes.
“This will enable citizens and residents to engage in a wide variety of sports and leisure pursuits. We aspire to excel in sport and be among the leaders in selected sports regionally and globally,” he added.