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NEOM Showcases Stunning Coastline With Saudi Arabia’s First Ever International Beach Sport Tournaments


            • IWWF NEOM Wakeboard Cup
            • FIFA-endorsed Beach Soccer Cup Tournament (4 Day International)
            • Beach Rugby Exhibition Matches
            • Beach Tennis Invitation Event

NEOM, Saudi Arabia – 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 compete 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.


About NEOM:

NEOM is the flagship project of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

A vast destination designed to welcome and celebrate the world’s athletes, sports enthusiasts and thrill seekers. NEOM was announced to the public on October 24, 2017, by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).

The name “NEOM” is derived from two words. The first three letters form the Ancient Greek prefix neo- meaning “new”.

The fourth letter is from the abbreviation of Mostaqbal (Arabic: مستقبل), an Arabic word meaning “future”.

As the name suggests, it will be the land of the future where the best ideas, most promising start-ups, established companies, future industries and the best talents are joined to create solutions for the key challenges facing humanity.


Bocelli Captivates Hearts with His Majestic Voice in Winter at Tantora Festival

  • Stunning Festival of Night-Time Hot Air Ballooning 
  • Bocelli Captivates Hearts with His Majestic Voice in Winter at Tantora Festival
  • Blakeridge Indigo Wins $4M USD 120 km Endurance Horse Race

Story 1: Hot Air Balloon Festival 

Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia – February 1st-9th, 2019: A Stunning Festival of Night-time Hot Air Ballooning – sixty hot air balloons took to the sky in the region’s first Hot Air Balloon Festival offering rides to festival goers and locals alike.

Each night the balloons light up the night skies with a daily ‘glow show’.

Story 2: Andrea Bocelli’s Desert Canyon Performance

Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia – February 2, 2019:On Friday, world-renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli presented a grand artistic performance at Maraya Concert Hall as part of Winter at Tantora Festival, which was recently launched by the Royal Commission for Al-Ula. The Festival features a variety of heritage, cultural and artistic events inspired by the heritage of Al-Ula, which dates back thousands of years. It attracted a wide audience from different regions of the Kingdom and beyond.

In the inspiring concert, Bocelli sang some of his most famous songs, including “Overture”, “La donna è mobile”, “Di quella pira, Waltz” and “Donna non vidi mai”

As one of the most famous operatic vocalists of all time, Andrea Bocelli is an opera singer, songwriter and international Italian musician, credited with restoring classical music to the throne of world music lists. Born on September 22, 1958 in Lajatico, Italy, Bocelli showed great interest in music at an early age and began learning piano at the age of six. Later, he learned to play the flute and the saxophone.

“This is my first time to perform in Saudi Arabia and I am very pleased with the great reception and hospitality I received from the organizers and the wonderful audience here,” said Bocelli. “AlUla is a great surprise, it is a beautiful natural destination and it has been an honor to sing in such majestic surrounds.”

Described as having the most beautiful voice in the world, Bocelli presented a concert that reflected the splendor of his majestic voice, which inspired millions around the world. Soon after his birth, Bocelli was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, which made him partially blind. He then lost his vision completely at the age 12, after he was hit on the head during a game of football. He participated in several musical competitions and recorded his first album in 1994 in Italy. He made great success in Europe shortly after his album “Bocelli” was released. In addition, he participated in collective and cooperative works with a number of international artists and musicians, and released many albums. Bocelli was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. He received Grammy nominations for Best New Artist in 1999, for Best Sound Performance for Sogno in 2000, and for best vocal collaboration for The Prayer.

The Maraya Concert Hall:

Maraya – mirror in Arabic – is a purpose-built concert hall and an extension of the environment around it in design and beauty. It includes a comprehensive stage equipped with the latest audio and lighting technology, as well as animated rear blinds that present to the audience the beauty of the mountains of Al-Ula. The latest digital projection technology has been used to describe a historical and visual story on the same stage.

Maraya can accommodate up to 500 guests. It includes a private VIP area, a gallery for world-class artists, such as Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, a reception area and artists rooms. Architect Massimo Fogliati, and the Italian designer Florian Buji of Geo Forma Studio designed the building that takes the shape of a huge cube covered with mirrors from its four sides to reflect the beauty of surrounding nature and the curiosity of man throughout history to explore the dazzling landscapes. Maraya will not rival the beauty of Al-Ula, but rather will reflect and highlight it while offering a unique experience for guests to unite with the pristine environment around them.

On weekends, Maraya Concert Hall will host concerts by world-renowned artists who made their mark in the field of Arab and international art. The first night of the Festival will feature a concert by the Arab artist Mohamed Abdo. The following concerts will include the Arab artist Majida El Roumi, the Arab artist Um Kulthum via hologram, the musician Omar Khairat, the Italian singer Andrea Bocelli, the Greek composer Yanni, the French violinist Renauld Capuçon and the Chinese pianist Lang Lang. They will dazzle the audience with their impressive performance and artistic sense.

Story 3: Blakeridge Indigo Wins $4M USD 120 km Endurance Horse Race

AlUla, Saudi Arabia – 27 Jumada AlAwal 1440 AH, corresponding to 2 February 2019: Held under the patronage of his Royal Highness Prince Muhammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Medinah AlMunawarah Province, awarded the winners of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, which concluded today in Fursan village in AlUla with the presence of His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

The race was also attended by the Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Federation, his Royal Highness Prince Abdallah bin Fahd bin Abdallah and Engineer Amr AlMadani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, as part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to strengthen AlUla’s position as an exceptional tourist destination boasting a unique heritage rich in arts, culture and sports.

At the end of the race, his Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Madinah AlMunawarah Province presented the cup to the owner of Blakeridge Indigo who completed the race in 4 hours 25 minutes 43 seconds, in the presence of His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla and His Highness Prince Abdallah bin Fahd bin Abdallah, Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Federation. His Royal Highness Prince Faisal lauded the efforts of the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Saudi Equestrian Federation teams as well as the Emirates Equestrian Federation for the organization of the event and the great support they provided to the participants.

His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “The history of AlUla bears a lot of inscriptions that highlight the population’s interest in Arabian horses, which makes AlUla the perfect location for the launch of the prestigious Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, the biggest prize of its kind in the world, with the full support and close supervision from His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla. We are happy to see the huge efforts of the residents of AlUla as we seek to provide more job opportunities to its youth through the organization of different events and activities.” The Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla congratulated the competitors and Salem Hamad AlKutbi from M7 Endurance stables on his win.

The race was part of the Winter at Tantora festival in AlUla held in partnership with the Saudi Equestrian Federation and the Emirati Equestrian Federation to highlight the heritage of AlUla that goes back thousands of years.

The FEI sanctioned, two-star classification race covered 120 km over four loops through the magnificent mountains of AlUla, a technical course between desert and mountains. The race saw the participation of 234 riders from 12 countries around the world including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Spain, Italy, France and Uruguay.

The riders competed for a prize pot of 15 million SAR (4m USD).

Horse Wameed from M7 Endurance stables came in 2nd place who completed the race in 4 hours 25 minutes 43 seconds, and horse Razorback Mechano from MRM stables came in the 3rd place who completed the race in 4 hours 25 minutes 44 seconds.

Through Winter at Tantora, The Royal Commission for AlUla aims to promote the position and archaeological history of the city as an international tourist destination, and to eventually attract more investments and provide job opportunities to the young generation in AlUla.


00:10 – Pre-dawn 60 hot air balloons are being filled and readied on the first day of the AlUla Hot Air Balloon Festival

00:18 – Aerial shot of the balloons surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of AlUla as they start to take flight

00:31 – Sweeping shot of the balloons, some in flight some taking off

00:36 – Firing the balloons

00:41 – Wide shot of the balloons over AlUla in the early morning light

01:18 – Night shots as the balloons are readied for the nightly ‘glow show’

01:28 – The glow show

01:39 – Andrea Bocelli in “Al Maraya” concert hall, he wore a traditional Saudi headdress – a ‘shemagh’ for the final encore

01:50 – Sweeping shots of the 200 person choir and orchestra

02:30 – Close up of Andrea Bocelli, a smile across his face

03:20 – Andrea Bocelli second song

04:35 – Andrea waltzes on stage

04:53 – The start line at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance race, 7AM

04:57 – A rider cooling off his horse as he enters the first vet check

05:12 – Arabian horses are the horse of choice for Endurance racing due to their stamina and speed

05:22 – Rider leaves the vet gate for Loop 2 of the race

05:47 – One of the race vets checking the heart rate of the horse as vet check. Part of the skill of endurance racing is the balance between the horse’s condition and speed

06:12 – Horse galloping through the AlUla valley

06:20 – The three trophies and medals. The prize money for the race stood at $4m USD

06:27 – Slow motion of horses galloping through the desert landscape

06:43 – His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bun Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Madinah walking with Prince Badr Bin Farhan Al Saud, Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla

06:48 – Prize giving, Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai accepts the first-place award. His son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai accepted the second-place award.

07:00 – Ends.


Winter at Tantora Festival is held in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia from December 20, 2018 to February 23, 2019. It includes heritage, cultural and artistic activities inspired by the heritage of Al-Ula, the home of important heritage sites in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and is the meeting point of many civilizations throughout the ages. Every weekend, the Festival will host artistic events and concerts by world-renowned artists who made their mark in the field of Arab and international art.

For more information, and to ensure attendance at concerts and participation in various events, please book your tickets today at

The Laureus World Sports Awards – Monaco 2017

MONACO – The 17th annual Laureus World Sports Awards are awarded in Monaco, in a glittering ceremony hosted by actor Hugh Grant and featuring some of the biggest names in world sport.

The Awards, returning to Monaco where they were first held in 2000, are presented across a number of categories and celebrate great sporting achievement from the last year.  The Nominees for each Award are selected by a panel of over 2000 sports journalists with the winner selected from a shortlist by the legendary members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Usain Bolt Wins Laureus Sportsman Of The Year

Olympian Usain Bolt has won Laureus sportsman of the year in Monaco

Simone Biles won Laureus sportswoman of the year after her Rio extravaganza

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri won a special discretionary award

Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg won Laureus world breakthrough

Swimmer Michael Phelps won Laureus world comeback of the year

Jamaican sprint great Usain Bolt says he has no regrets about his decision to retire from athletics in 2017 as he has accomplished everything he wants to in the sport.

Bolt will hang up his spikes following the world championships in London in August, bringing the curtain down on a career that has delivered eight Olympic gold medals.

Bolt completed a ‘treble treble’ of 100m, 200m and 4x100m Olympic titles at the 2016 Rio Games, but had his 2008 relay gold stripped last month after team mate Nesta Carter’s re-tested sample showed traces of a banned substance.

Back-to-back Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres gold medal winner Mo Farah and double Olympic tennis champion Andy Murray finished behind Bolt for the award.

Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball duo Stephen Curry and LeBron James were also shortlisted.

Simone Biles was amazing to watch at the gymnastics in Rio. She picked up three golds and was rewarded with the Laureus world sportswoman of the year.

Leicester City shocked football fans across the globe when they were guided by Claudio Ranieri to the Premier League title. The club won a spirit of sport award while Ranieri was presented with a special discretionary prize.

Britain’s Rachel Atherton won the world action sportsperson of the year award for her downhill mountain biking feats.

Shows: Red Carpet, Awards and Photo Call

Other: More information can be found at