Dustin Johnson’s victory at the inaugural Saudi International powered by SBIA has been heralded as the beginning of a new era for sport and entertainment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, delivering the first example of a modern Saudi lifestyle for global audiences.
On a weekend which will be remembered in the annals of golfing history, four of the five best-ranked players on the Official World Golf Ranking joined the field at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, a leisure development which epitomizes King Abdullah Economic City’s status as a champion of sports and entertainment in the Kingdom.
As world Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau blazed a new trail for golf on-course, history was being made away from it, as globally-recognized entertainers Mariah Carey, Sean Paul and Tiesto performed in the Kingdom for the first time. Drawing over 10,000 revelers, the household stars headlined a revolutionary entertainment programme, which also saw the premiere of the critically-acclaimed film, Rise. It documents the incredible feats accomplished by Saudi women over recent years, notably the achievements of Raha Moharrak, the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest.
Thousands turned out to support the festivities, which also saw introductory golf lessons offered in the family village at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club for Saudi women and children for the first time. Ryder Cup hero, Ian Poulter, was part of the celebration, spending some time with local youngsters to give them a first taste of the sport.
The week also saw the anointing of Saudi Arabia’s first professional player, as Othman Almulla, a source of inspiration for the nation’s emerging generation of golfing enthusiasts, joined the paid ranks with his first appearance as a pro in his home championship.
Playing a leading role in Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’, KAEC is at the forefront of technological development in the Kingdom, with world-leading educational facilities being established and unparalleled investment in business infrastructure being experienced, in addition to the creation of the championship golf course at Royal Greens Golf & Country club.
“There is no question, the week of the Saudi International powered by SBIA will stand as one of the most important in KAEC history,” said Ahmed Linjawy, Group CEO of King Abdullah Economic City. “For me, it has been an honor to see King Abdullah Economic City play a central role in proceedings and to set the stage for a moment which will live long in the memory of our nation, and hopefully with audiences worldwide.”
The world’s largest privately-operated economic project, the city delivers upon the principles of Vision 2030, championing the modern Saudi lifestyle laid out by King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
In addition to the developments already in place, the city is planning to open a race track and beach club to complement a world-leading sports centre; the latter designed to host internationally recognised events over the coming years. Whilst this investment will doubtless attract further business relocations to the area, over 100 national, regional and international companies have already created bases in the city. As a result, KAEC has become known as the ‘Industrial Valley’, with these wider attractions also providing entertainment for the owners of the 10,000 residential units positioned within the city.