A strong contingent of Saudi women athletes will be out in force at the fourth edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), which runs from February 2-12, 2018. Organised by the Sharjah Women Sports Foundation, (SWSF), under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, the event will see 70 clubs from 17 Arab countries compete in nine Olympic sports.For the first time, clubs from KSA are gearing up to taking part in the majority of the events. Saudi women will participate in five of the nine sports, and will be represented by the Green Jeddah Club, which will participate in table tennis, Princess Nora University Club in athletics, Jeddah United Club in basketball, Saudi Arabian Fencing Federation Club in fencing, and they will also have a presence in the Karate event, the latest sport that has been added to the tournament’s events.HE Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Chairperson of AWST Supreme Organising Committee, Head of AWST Executive Committee and Director General of SWSF, emphasised that the participation of Saudi sportswomen adds yet more value in terms of competitiveness and that Saudi women sports unions and federations strongly support female athletes and develop their skills through taking part in international events.“Seeing Saudi sportswomen participating underscores the dedication and commitment of all sporting organisations across the Arab world and the importance of developing female athletes in all competitions. This is a great stride forwards in bridging the gap between Arab competitors and their peers from around the world, particularly bearing in mind that all of the AWST sports are featured in the Olympics,” she said.
“In the past, Saudi Arabia has limited is participation to show-jumping, but this year will see it taking part in five events, which reflects the Saudi government’s goal to develop women in sports, and encourage promising talented female athletes to reach their full potential,” she added.“Providing a competitive environment and increasing the reach of participating countries are fundamental to developing women in sports. These were crucial factors when we launched AWST, which exemplifies the overarching vision to support women in all fields, including sports. This is manifested by the growing number of sports and participation in the fourth edition of the event, including the addition of Karate and the greater involvement of clubs and countries from many Arab nations including Saudi Arabia.“This progress highlights the efforts of the Supreme Organising Committee of AWST under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Muhammad Al Qasimi. The Supreme Organising Committee toured many Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Jordan with the aim of ensuring the participation of the largest number of Arab female athletes in the region’s largest women sporting event,” she added.Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest participating country in terms of the number of clubs in AWST 2018, following the UAE, the host country that participates in the tournament’s nine sports, Bahrain and Algeria, who each take part in eight of the nine sports. The nine events comprise basketball, volleyball, fencing, show-jumping, archery, table tennis shooting and athletics and Karate.