Fanack Home / Saudi Arabia / Society, Media & Culture of Saudi Arabia / Culture of Saudi Arabia / Sports

Sports of Saudi Arabia

Arabian Saluki dogs competing
Arabian Saluki dogs competing
Both traditional and modern sports are popular in Saudi Arabia. Traditional sports include horse and camel racing, falconry, and hunting with hounds. Among modern sports, football (soccer) is especially popular. 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 soccer team in World Cup competition.

Other organized sports that have gained a following among Saudis include volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, and basketball.

Saudi Arabia has several 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 in use.

Men can often be found playing sports, but women rarely participate in sports and never in the presence of men; this has given rise to many indoor gyms.

Saudi Arabia became an official participant in the Olympic Games in 1965. There are training programmes for coaches, referees, and sports-medicine personnel.

The national soccer team of Saudi Arabia in 2011
The national soccer team of Saudi Arabia in 2011
Saudi goal keeper Waleed Abdullah during the World Cup 2014 qualification match, on 11 October 2011, against Thailand, in Bangkok, Thailand / Photo Shutterstock
Saudi goal keeper Waleed Abdullah during the World Cup 2014 qualification match, on 11 October 2011, against Thailand, in Bangkok, Thailand / Photo Shutterstock

In the 2012 London Olympic Games, women from Saudi Arabia were allowed to compete for the first time. Sarah Attar in the 800-metre race and Wojdan Shaherkaniin in judo participated after negotiations between the International Olympic Committee and the Saudi Olympic Committee. Both athletes trained in private spaces or outside the country, because no women’s sport is allowed to operate in Saudi, whether privately or under government auspices.

Frank Rijkaard, Dutch coach of the national soccer team
Frank Rijkaard, Dutch coach of the national soccer team
Sarah Attar
Sarah Attar
Wojdan Shaherkani
Wojdan Shaherkani
Dalma Rushdi Malhas
Dalma Rushdi Malhas

© Copyright Notice

click on link to view the associated photo/image
©Shutterstock ⁃ mooinblack

We would like to ask you something …

Fanack is an independent media organisation, not funded by any state or any interest group, that distributes in the Middle East and the wider world unbiased analysis and background information, based on facts, about the Middle East and North Africa.

The website grew rapidly in breadth and depth and today forms a rich and valuable source of information on 21 countries, from Morocco to Oman and from Iran to Yemen, both in Arabic and English. We currently reach six million readers annually and growing fast.

In order to guarantee the impartiality of information on the Chronicle, articles are published without by-lines. This also allows correspondents to write more freely about sensitive or controversial issues in their country. All articles are fact-checked before publication to ensure that content is accurate, current and unbiased.

To run such a website is very expensive. With a small donation, you can make a huge impact. And it only takes a minute. Thank you.