The Arab Women Sports Tournament is gearing up for its biggest ever event, hosting 68 teams from 16 countries, represented by more than 1,000 athletes and administrative personnel. Launched in 2012, the tournament, which is held every two years, has become a must-attend event in the Arab sporting calendar, bringing together world-class athletes to compete in a unique environment.Running from February 2-12, the 11-day event is being held in ten venues across Sharjah under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and Chairperson of Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF).AWST 2018 will begin with an opening ceremony at Al Majaz Amphitheatre today (Friday), in the presence of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of AWST’s Supreme Organising Committee (SOC); Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports; and Princess Haifa bint Mohammed bin Saud Al Saud, Director General of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.Also attending will be Khalid Abdulaziz, Egyptian Minister of Youth; Shaikha Hayat Bint Abdul Aziz Al Khalifa, member of the Bahraini National Olympic Committee and Chairperson of AWST Follow-up and Supervision; Engineer Sherif Al Aryan, Secretary General of the Egyptian Olympics Committee; HE Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of the SOC, Head of its Executive Committee and Director General of SWSF; and Nour El Sherbini, Egyptian world squash champion.The opening ceremony, presented by renowned TV sports personality Mustafa Al Agha, will feature a range of events, keynote addresses, official speeches and a parade by participating teams hoisting the flags of Arab countries taking part in the tournament as well as special Karate and martial art displays. The opening will also see athletes and technical and administrative teams taking the athletic oath before the audience and the SOC.
Outstanding participation matched by world-class quality
Held under the theme ‘The World Is Your Court – Together Victorious,’ the tournament is hosting 16 Arab countries represented by 68 teams competing in nine sporting disciplines: basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, archery, shooting, fencing, show jumping, and Karate, which is making its debut at AWST 2018.With 68 teams this year, compared to 51 that took part in the 2016 tournament, the figures reflect not only the highest level of competition, but also the success of AWST in terms of organisation, preparation and promotion. This adds a new benchmark to Sharjah’s record of advancing women’s status in all field.
A competition that bonds
The 16 countries taking part are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Djibouti.Saudi Arabia is participating with five teams competing in five sports, with the Jeddah United Club looking to clinch the basketball title, while the Saudi Federation Academy Club is participating in the fencing competition. The Prince Nora University Club is taking part in the athletics competitions. The Kingdom is also represented by the Al Salah team in the Karate competition, which is being held for the first time.
Palestine will participate with three clubs, Al Quds Sports Club, which is taking part in show-jumping, Al Istiqlal Academy Club in athletics and Bait Al Magdis Club in Karate.Oman is represented in the tournament by Sahar Volleyball Club, Qurayyat Shooting Club and Reyadhat Athletics, while Jordan has Fuheis Club in the volleyball competitions, Mo’atah Club in table tennis, Al Jawad Equestrian Club in show-jumping and the Nepocan Club in Karate.Egypt will compete with four clubs in four sports: Alexandria Sporting Basketball Club, Al Masry Equestrian Club, Sporting Club, which is competing in fencing and Port Fouad Club in athletics.Kuwait has two clubs in six sporting disciplines, which are the Girl Sports Club competing in volleyball, basketball, table tennis, athletics and Karate, while Al Ittihad Club is participating in the shooting disciplines.Iraq is participating in the tournament with three clubs: The Iraqi Shooting Club, the Beshmerga Sports Club will compete in athletics and the Fatima Sports Club in archery.
Also participating in AWST 2018 is Morocco, represented by Al Hasani Defence Club, which is competing for the table tennis title, and in shooting, both the Zanata Al Shallalt Club and Al Tahadi Shooting Club are going for gold. The Marrakesh Club is competing in Karate.Lebanon is represented by Al Nadwa Al Qamatia Club which is taking part in the table tennis competitions, while Somalia is represented by Mogadishu Basketball Club, and Iman Hospital Sports Club, which is taking part in athletics. Libya is participating with Al Ittihad Women’s Sports Club, which is competing in three disciplines: table tennis, athletics and Karate.Bahrain’s teams consist of the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ Mawaheb Basketball Club, Al Muharraq Club which is taking part in the volleyball, and Bahrain Club which is participating in the shooting, archery and table tennis competitions. Also from Bahrain is Alhala Sports Club, taking part in fencing, Al Basateen Club in athletics and Bahrain Karate Academy.Algeria is represented by the National Security Sports Association in the shooting and fencing competitions and Mawlodiya Club in fencing, while Djibouti is represented by Djibouti University Club in the table tennis competition.The UAE is represented by the Sharjah Women’s Sports Club, which will compete for top podium places in all nine sporting events. Also participating from the UAE are Al Wasl Club, which is taking part in the volleyball competitions, Bani Yas Club in fencing, Al Nasr Sports Club in Karate and Al Ain Sports Club in archery.
The SOC rolled out landmark strategies to implement a ‘green’ tournament with a view to harnessing innovative technologies to protect the environment. The plan involves deploying modern environmentally-friendly solutions for the tournament’s operations and ensuring that AWST 2018 is ecologically sound in its practices and are in compliance with the highest standards of sustainability.The green strategy is implemented in collaboration with Sharjah Environment Company (Bee’ah), the UAE's leading integrated environmental and waste management company, which is assigned to distribute special waste and paper containers to all AWST amenities. Sharjah Municipality will be supervising the hygiene of the tournament’s sport facilities to ensure the health and safety of the participants and spectators.Daily advertisements and match timetables will be shown via smart monitors throughout the event’s various facilities instead of paper flyers. The plan also involves using green transportation, including bicycles to facilitate access to different venues.
A tournament free of performance-enhancing drugs
Emphasising its dedication to promoting fair competition, the Anti-Doping Committee – a commission by the Executive Committee of AWST – held a workshop to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs and its impact on health and careers.It also addressed the list of prohibited substances which is updated regularly by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The athletes also learned about performance enhancing-drugs, stimulants and anabolic steroids as well as testing, including random checks. Al Naqbi: “The tournament is a springboard for female athletes to go on to the highest level events.”HE Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of the SOC, Head of its Executive Committee and Director General of SWSF, said: “SWSF’s strategies and plans are inspired by the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member Ruler of Sharjah, to empower women and provide all resources needed to advance their potential and achievements on an international platform.” She added: “The tournament is a springboard for female athletes to go on to the highest level events and represent their countries as role models and ambassadors for Arab women across the world.”