*Qatar-Saudi sports co-operation set for new heights
Minister of Sports and Chairman of the Olympic Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal arrived in Doha Wednesday at the invitation of HE the President of the Qatar Olympic Committee Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani.
HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani met Prince Abdulaziz and his delegation upon their arrival at Hamad International Airport.
HE the President of the Qatar Football Association Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani, HE the Secretary-General of QOC Jassim bin Rashid al- Buainain, and several QOC officials later attended a meeting.
Prince Abdulaziz will Thursday witness the final of the FIFA Club World Cup between European champions Bayern Munich and Mexico’s Tigres UANL at the Education City Stadium.
A couple of days ago, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Football Association, Yasser al-Mashal accompanied by other Saudi sports officials visited Qatar at the invitation of the President of the Qatar Football Association Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani.
Some hectic diplomacy involving top sports officials from Qatar and Saudi Arabia over the past few days is expected to dramatically raise the level of co-operation between the two countries in the realm of sport.
The past three-and-a-half years saw sporting ties between the neighbours run cold due to the blockade, with tensions running high whenever teams from the two countries clashed on the field.
But with that dark chapter of the region now a thing of the past and ties being fast-tracked towards near-normal levels, the day won’t be far away when sports fans from both countries would be able to drive across the border once again without any restrictions and enjoy some high class sporting action.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have a great history of sporting rivalry in sport, especially football, with national and club teams regularly clashing in competitions such as the AFC Champions League, the Gulf Cup, Arab Cup and even in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
In December last, Qatar won the bid to host the 2030 Asian Games in 2030 in a direct competition with Saudi Arabia.
Although the vote conducted by the Olympic Council of Asia was held a few weeks before the blockade was lifted, there were enough signs of a thaw with the Saudis whole-heartedly congratulating the Doha bid team lead by Sheikh Joaan for winning the bid.
“We want more Asian athletes on Olympic podiums. We want that to be part of your national sports history, not just ours,” Sheikh Joaan had said then.
Qatar is one of the sponsors of the UN resolution on sports for development and peace, highlighting the importance of sports in enhancing development, peace, respect and tolerance, achieving an active and healthy community.
The coming months could see new developments as Qatar and Saudi Arabia take the road of sport towards lasting peace and harmony.