NEOM’s ambition to turn the gigaproject into a world sports powerhouse took a leap forward this week with the hosting of its first officially-endorsed international events – the first of their kind to take place in the new destination, which is being developed in the North-Western corner of Saudi Arabia along the borders of Egypt and Jordan.
Athletes from 16 nations have taken to the crystal-clear waters of the pristine beaches of Gayal in NEOM, situated on the Gulf of Aqaba, to participate in the IWWF NEOM Wakeboard event.
The off-shore action was but one part of a sporting spectacular that also included a FIFA-endorsed Beach Soccer Cup tournament. The four-day international event included teams from Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, England, Oman and the UAE. Oman won in style in a thrilling final that saw them beat Egypt 5-4 after extra time.
Other events included exhibition Beach Rugby matches with players from Saudi Arabia and an all-female set of match officials, plus a Beach Tennis invitation event starring male and female players from the region.
NEOM has been described as ‘the world’s most ambitious project’ – a land of the future created to empower global talents and maximise human health and potential. Sport is an integral part of the NEOM philosophy, both at the elite level and at grass roots.
NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said “As we build the land of the future, we see sports as an integral part of the NEOM offering, leveraging our unique pristine land to host international sporting events both for professional and everyday athletes, as well as those who choose to visit and live in NEOM. Sport plays a leading role in the realisation of our dream to inspire us all to live healthier lifestyles.”
“It’s great testimony to the spirit of NEOM that we are hosting a World Cup and International Beach Soccer Tournament at such an early stage in our development,” said Jason Harborow, head of NEOM’s Future of Sport sector. “As we evolve, Beach Sports will be an important part of our offering and major events will be high on the agenda.”
NEOM’s Beach Sports events follow the wildly successful Wing Suit & Climbing Challenge in April, which showcased NEOM’s incredible mountains to over 300 million people in 105 countries around the globe.
In the meantime, further world-class events are planned to reinforce NEOM’s reputation as the world’s most exciting and visually spectacular sporting destination.