Saudi women achievers make a pitch for Kingdom’s first female-only golf tourney

The governing body will also make golf free for up to 1,000 women from next month, when they launch their Ladies First Club membership

  
image used for illustrative purpose. A female fan of Saudi Arabia's soccer team shows her support during the team's AFC Asian Cup qualifier soccer match against Iraq at the Amman International Stadium in Amman October 15, 2013.

image used for illustrative purpose. A female fan of Saudi Arabia's soccer team shows her support during the team's AFC Asian Cup qualifier soccer match against Iraq at the Amman International Stadium in Amman October 15, 2013.

REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
 

JEDDAH: Inspirational Saudis who overcame gender barriers to achieve a string of firsts for women in the Kingdom have reflected on the groundbreaking nature of their feats, in a new video series heralding the country’s first all-female golf tournaments.

Dalma Malhas, Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic medalist, Mariam Fardous, the first Saudi woman to deep dive in the Arctic Ocean, Nelly Attar, founder of Move Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s first dance studio, Maram Al-Butairi, general manager of Eastern Flames, the first Saudi female football team, and DJ Cosmicat, the Kingdom’s first female DJ, came together to share what it means to them to have been a “first woman” in Saudi Arabia.

The initiative was organized by Golf Saudi as a means of illustrating the milestone of next month’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the Kingdom’s first ladies golf tournament, and only the second ever international, women-only professional sports event held in the country.

Fardous — who was only the third woman to deep dive in the Arctic when she took the plunge in 2015 — said: “I believe that everyone should make their own mark in life. This is my one rule. I wanted to make a mark — one mark that could be seen and felt by everyone.

“I hope to be a source of inspiration for women, especially girls who don’t believe that we can achieve the impossible. I imagine that our vision — and the fact we have achieved something — will make girls see that they can overcome anything and achieve their dreams, and that they can think outside of the box in creative ways. We can be poster women for our country,” she added.

“These famous golfers who are coming to Saudi Arabia have certainly had their own difficulties, but we can see how they’ve managed to succeed and how they were able to make their own mark in life. They are all great achievers. I’m so excited to learn more about golf here in Saudi Arabia, in my own country, and see these inspirational female athletes compete.”

The five-part video series — which launches Tuesday on the event’s official Twitter and Instagram channels (@saudiladiesintl) — invited each of the five women to share their journey to creating Saudi history.

They each explained what drove them to shatter the glass ceiling above them, and how they saw their achievements inspire other women across the Kingdom, the wider Middle East and the world.

Malhas said: “Representing Saudi Arabia at the Youth Olympic Games and winning a bronze medal was a moment that was full of honor, pride and glory — and it definitely changed my life. I think it is very important for young girls to see women achieving their goals and pursuing their dreams. It just raises an awareness that it is now possible for them to do the same.”

The new tournament has been orchestrated by Golf Saudi, who are hoping this will drive more Saudi women to take up golf. As announced last week, the governing body will also make golf free for up to 1,000 women from next month, when they launch their Ladies First Club membership.

Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour said: “The Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the PIF, is yet another significant and historic step forward for Saudi Arabia, and is the latest on the same path these five women and thousands more have helped carve throughout the Kingdom in recent years.

“Our two tournaments next month will be only the second and third international, professional women-only sports events to ever be held in our country. We feel that’s something of incredible impact, and in celebrating it, we are highlighting the pioneering Saudi women who have helped make it possible,” he added.

“This unique video series does that, and it is our honor to have these exceptional women encapsulate the ethos of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International — and the excitement around it — in this way.”

The $1 million prize tournament takes place Nov. 12-15 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), and will be followed two days later by the unique format of the Saudi Ladies Team International, Nov. 17-19, where teams of four players will battle together for a share of $500,000.

Both events will feature more than 100 female European Tour golfers, including Solheim Cup heroes Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, and a host of other top names.

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