Confronting Challenges is essential for the Development of Saudi Arabia

Clock Icon Jul 8, 2024
Overcoming obstacles is part of Saudi Arabia's development journey.

Overcoming obstacles is part of Saudi Arabia's development journey. (Source: Pixaby)

Last month, my friend Arij AlMutabagani, head of the Saudi Tennis Federation (STF), celebrated securing Saudi Arabia as the host for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) finals at an official launch ceremony.

The season-ending WTA Finals will be held in Riyadh, in November this year and also in 2025 and 2026. The prestigious season-ending event will be held in Riyadh, making the latest in a series of high-profile tournaments that Arij has successfully brought to the Saudi tennis scene.

From our conversations, I've seen the immense effort, dedication, and passion she has poured into making these finals a reality for Saudi Arabia. As a devoted tennis enthusiast, this milestone holds personal significance for her.

In a country where tennis was once a luxury for the few and sparked little widespread interest, this achievement is nothing short of extraordinary. Like many pioneering initiatives under Vision 2030, the WTA Finals marks a groundbreaking first step, similar to many other cultural and sporting organisations and authorities that have been established to benefit the people of Saudi Arabia.

They’ve all faced challenges too; building something from the ground up and seeing it come to fruition is an enormous task, fraught with both anticipated and unforeseen challenges. But when you speak to trailblazers like AlMutabagani, you can see the roadmap to success.

It’s about cultivating awareness, understanding, and acceptance. Rallying stakeholders, the public, and authorities to contribute, support, and implement the changes needed to bring such a vision to life is also crucial.

Of course, Arij has faced resistance from those who didn't grasp the necessity of such progress. She’s had to navigate and negotiate. But achievements like hers go far beyond merely hosting events; they are about charting a course for the future, fostering hope, and expanding possibilities.

So it’s not just about hosting a prestigious tournament like the WTA Finals, and then tennis disappearing for another year until the next one. This is about creating a lasting legacy for the sport and culture in Saudi Arabia, in so doing fostering a more prosperous society.

This is what makes the Saudi Arabia of today so different: There is possibility, and the sense that despite the obstacles, that possibility is turning into reality.

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