Dubai, UAE, January 10, 2018: HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, winner of the Arab Sports Personality Award at the 9th Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, wants to see more women take up top positions in Saudi Arabian sports federation and inspire the generations that follow.
The first female to lead a Saudi sports federation when she took over as president of the Federation for Community Sports in October, Princess Reema is also Deputy President of Saudi Arabia's Sports Authority for Planning & Development.
Her pioneering role in the founding and regulation of women's sport in Saudi Arabia, including the introduction of sports among girls in public schools, has seen Princess Reema bag the prestigious Arab Sports Personality award at the 9th Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, which comes under the umbrella of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.
Thanking His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his “pioneering approach to sports and athletes, not just local but the wider Arab region”, which has seen the MBR Creative Sports Award become the “dream of every Arab athlete and official”, Princess Reema is hoping to see many more Saudi women follow her lead.
“I am hoping to see women in the top hierarchy of every sports federation in Saudi Arabia, for they will then become role models for the women who follow,” said Princess Reema as she spelt out her dreams for sports in Saudi Arabia in the main session of the 9th Sports Creativity Forum on Tuesday at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers' Godolphin Ballroom.
“It is important that women take up these positions, learn on the job and then pass on their knowledge to the next generation.”
Women's sports, however, is not the principal focus of Princess Reema. As head of Community Sports, she is trying to reach out to a wider segment of the society and hoping to increase the pool of people playing sports.
“When I first came into sports administration, the goal was to develop women's sport and expand its base in Saudi Arabia,” she said. “But soon I discovered it is youth sport that needs greater attention. So we had to change our strategy of focusing on women's sport and turn our attention towards youth sport in the country.
“We had a meeting with all the federations and we decided that our goal will be to increase the number of youths playing individual sports. We need a pool of at least 20,000 if we hope to find 100 good ones, and that is our goal.”
Two-time Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj also took part in the forum, reminiscing on his glory days in the fourth session of the day, titled “Inspiring Experiences”, alongside Tunisian distance-running legend Mohammed Gammoudi.
“It is really important for our young people to have a dream,” said El Guerrouj, who still owns three middle-distance world records more than 13 years after hanging up his boots.
“I had dreams of being an Olympic hero since the age of 12, but I was too embarrassed to talk about it with my family or friends, because my dream was bigger than the ocean I lived near.
“I failed at the Atlanta Games, but I did not give up on my Olympic dreams. I failed again four years later in Sydney, and the failure to win gold in Sydney [won silver in 1,500m] really hurt a lot because I was the favourite.
“I will not deny I had thoughts of quitting in 2001, but my family and friends, and the establishment, helped me get over the Sydney heartache and I carried on to win two Olympic gold medals [1,500m and 5,000m] at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and fulfil my childhood dream.”
In the opening session of the day, Tunisian Tarek Bin Mohamed Souei, winner of the Arab Referee award, and the visually-impaired Algerian twins Abdellatif and Fouad Baka talked about how winning the MBR Creative Sports Award will inspire them to earn more laurels for Arab sports, while Egyptian swimmer Farida Hisham Osman, winner of the Distinguished Athletes Achievement Award, and Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Mustafa Al Sowaiq, winner of the Arab Emerging Athlete Award expressed their pride at winning the honour.
In the fifth and final session, Yousuf Al Balooshi, the Technical Director of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, and Amina Lanaya, Acting Director General of Union Cycliste International, gave presentations on what their organisations had done to empower women in their respective sports.
WINNERS OF THE 9TH MBR CREATIVE SPORTS AWARD
UAE Sports Personality: HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (UAE)
Arab Sports Personality: HRH Princess Rima bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud (KSA)
UAE Outstanding Athlete: Omar Abdul Rahman Al AMoodi (Football)
UAE Referee: Ebrahim Yousef Al Mansoori (Beach Soccer)
UAE Coach: Saeed Bin Suroor Al Khaldi (Horse Racing)
UAE Organisation: UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation
Arab Outstanding Athlete: Nour Atef El Sherbini (Egypt – Squash)
Arab Administrator: Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Al Gannas (KSA)
Arab Referee: Tarek Bin Mohamed Souei (Tunisia)
Arab Coach: Faris Ibrahim Al Assaf (Jordan)
Arab Team: Iraqi Youth Football Team U16
International Organisation (For Association of Summer Olympic International Federations): Union Cycliste International (UCI)
International Organisation (For IOC-Recognised International Sports Federations): International Cricket Council (ICC)
Arab Emerging Athlete: Mohammed Mustafa Al Sowaiq (KSA – Taekwondo)
Distinguished Athlete: Farida Hisham Osman (Egypt – Swimming)
Difficult Challenges (People of Determination Category):
1. Abdellatif Baka (Algeria – Athletics)
2. Fouad Baka (Algeria – Athletics)
Olympic Creative Sports:
1. Mohammed Gammoudi (Tunisia – Athletics)
2. Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco – Athletics)
UAE Emerging Athlete (Nominees):
1. Hussain Yousuf Anwar (Football)
2. Ammar Mohammed Al Sedrani (Chess)
3. Maitha Abdulla Hasan (Judo)
4. Wadima Saeed Abdulla (Jiu Jitsu)
5. Omar Mohammed Alwan (Jiu Jitsu)
6. Abdalla Guhloom Al Maazimi (Taekwondo)