Saudi Arabia is gearing up to welcome international live sport back with ‘safe zones’ around the Kingdom’s first professional women’s golf week now officially secured. Held within a safe bio-secure environment, the King Abdullah Economic City ‘bubbles’ will be in place throughout the hosting of Saudi’s debut elite-level European Ladies Tour golf tournaments: the $1million prize-fund Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund taking place 12th-15th November and the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International, running 17th -19th November.
Across a three-week period, the bubbles will be home to between 500 and 600 people. The tournament will see more than 1,500 COVID-19 tests conducted, including at least three each for the events’ 110 players, plus caddies and tournament staff.
Ladies European Tour players, event staff and personnel will undertake COVID-19 tests upon arrival in KAEC, before being permitted to enter the ‘safe zones’ ahead of the tournament, where they will be housed in two exclusive five-star hotels for the tournament duration. These measures have been implemented to ensure the health and safety of all individuals within the safety zones, as all those quarantining within the area will be required to receive at least two negative tests in order to move around.
Across its entirety, every element of player and staff safety will be watched over by independent consultants specializing in health and safety, risk assessment and COVID-19 best practices, including Dr Andrew Murray, key advisor to Sport England and technical advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO). There will be daily symptoms checks performed on everyone within the bubbles, with contingency plans in place for all and any eventualities.
Majed Al Sorour, CEO of both Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “Over the past few weeks, we have been building a safe and secure zone to bring back international sports to the Kingdom whilst adhering to COVID-19 precautionary measures. The area is designed to ensure that we can provide a secure environment to host Ladies European Tour golfers, but also protect the wider community. The landmark event will allow us to showcase that Saudi Arabia is ready to once again host major global events, whilst also developing the great game of golf and inspiring the next generation of young Saudis and Saudi golfers.”
The tournament itself will take place at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, a premier 18-hole championship golf course and clubhouse, boasting panoramic views of the Red Sea coast. The venue has been adapted to suit COVID-19 precautionary measures and will be thoroughly sanitized throughout the build-up and duration of both events. A two-metre physical distance is required to be maintained at all times, with players and caddies the only exception.
Off the course, and all the players will be kept entertained courtesy of a bowling alley, games room, cinema screen, gyms and swimming pools across their hotels.
Both tournaments will attract many of the world’s best golfers, with the Saudi Ladies Team International set to be the first time in women’s golf history that professionals – themselves competing in the Kingdom for the first time – will partner with amateurs in a points-earning Tour event.
Together, the events mark the return of huge international sporting events to the Kingdom, something Saudi Arabia has become renowned for hosting in recent years as the country aims to inspire its next generation under the ambitions of Saudi Vision 2030.