Saudi Arabian female athletes celebrated a landmark victory this month at the 2018 Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), walking away with five medals – four bronzes and one silver. According to the Center for International Communication, this fourth edition of the region’s largest women’s sports competition is the first time the team has participated.
Ghaya Al Khaled took home the silver in the Below 68 kg category, Amna Daftardar won two bronze medals in the Under 55 kg category, and Manal Al Zayd and Budoor Sarhan nabbed one medal each, in the Individual Kata and the Above 68 kg categories respectively.
In previous tournaments, the Kingdom had limited is participation to show-jumping but in this year’s edition, which was held in Sharjah, UAE, it had teams in five categories: basketball, table tennis, fencing, athletics, and karate.
Princess Reema Bint Bandar, the first woman in Saudi Arabia’s history to be appointed as head of a sports federation in the Kingdom, the Saudi Federation for Mass Participation, said of the event that, “Saudi women have always played a crucial part in the Kingdom’s social and economic life as a driving force behind growth in all domains and are now an integral part of the Kingdom’s sporting world as well.”
Last year, Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, President of the Arab Sports Council and Head of the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees, touched on the importance of Saudi female teams participating in regional tournaments such as AWST, saying, “The participation of Saudi delegations in AWST is in the interests of the Saudi government as it will help with the development of the women’s sports sector and encourage players to participate in all competitions that will enhance their presence in the Arab region.”
The 11-day event brought together 69 clubs from 17 Arab countries to compete in various categories, under the title “The World is Your Court, Together Victorious.” The event was organized by the Sharjah Women’s Sports Foundation (SWSF) and was held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawahar bint Mohammed Al Qasmi, wife of the ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of SWSF.