Sports And Recreation
Both traditional and modern sports are popular in Saudi Arabia. The people of the Arabian Peninsula have enjoyed sports for thousands of years, including horse and camel racing, falconry and hunting with hounds. Today, modern sports are also popular – especially football.
A special effort has been made to encourage sports and make them accessible to the public. Hundreds of facilities have been established throughout the Kingdom so that all Saudis can exercise regularly or enjoy popular spectator sports.
In addition, all levels of the Saudi educational system – from nursery school to university – emphasise the importance of sports.
Football is by far the most popular modern sport in Saudi Arabia. Saudis of all ages have taken the game to heart, from children having a kick-about on playgrounds to international matches battled out in spectacular modern stadiums. There is a professional Saudi football league that is wildly popular among Saudis – friends and families often gather to cheer on their favourite teams, both on television and in stadiums. The highlight of the Saudi football league is its championship tournament known as the King’s Cup. Fans also avidly follow the Saudi Arabian national football team in the World Cup competition. For the latest news on the Saudi national football team visit their FIFA page.
In addition to football, other organised sports have gained a following among Saudis, including volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and basketball.
Saudi Arabia has a number of first-class golf courses. American expatriates introduced golf to Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s when they created a course in the sand near Dhahran. They mixed oil with the sand to keep the course from blowing away, a method that is still used in the Kingdom. Today, there are lush, green courses in that look as though they belong in the tropics.
The Kingdom has a number of different types of sports facilities, ranging from major sports complexes to local facilities and clubs.
The huge sports complexes, called Sports Cities, are located in large population centres. Each complex has a stadium that can seat between 10,000 and 60,000 people, an indoor stadium seating 5,000, Olympic-size swimming pools, indoor and outdoor courts, playgrounds, conference halls, and sports medicine clinics.
Smaller than the Sports Cities, local sports facilities and playgrounds were built in large urban areas so that young Saudis can play sports like basketball and volleyball close to their homes. These centres offer parks, open spaces, and facilities for indoor activities.
Local sports clubs are located in all cities and towns. They offer a range of facilities for different sports, including football pitches, indoor and outdoor courts, swimming pools, playgrounds, recreational areas and accommodation for youth camps. These clubs organise local events throughout the year.