One of the largest luxury cruise liners in Saudi Arabia has hosted the country’s first netball tournament while sailing on the Red Sea.
The MSC Bellissima, a 4,500-passenger cruise ship, was the setting for the kingdom’s foray into competitive netball.
During a three-day cruise from Jeddah to Jordan, a three-round tournament took place on-board the vessel with two teams, one from Riyadh and one from Jeddah, taking to the court.
The team from Riyadh's Golden Sports Academy claimed victory, winning all three games aboard the largest cruise ship to sail the Red Sea.
The action unfolded in the cruise liner's sports complex and several passengers on-board had the chance to witness sporting history with spectator seats full on both sides of the court, with more than 40 guests attending each match.
The event was organised by the Saudi Sports for All Federation and the Saudi Tourism Authority.
Potential for Saudi Arabia's sports tourism
This highlights the opportunities that exist in the kingdom’s sports tourism industry, which is one of the fastest-growing areas of the global tourism sector.
Netball is one of several sports announced by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee in May as part of a countrywide effort to widen the range of sports offered to young people in the country.
Played by more than 20 million people in over 80 countries around the world, the sport is finding its place in the kingdom. Dominated by women, it fits into Saudi Arabia’s initiatives as part of Vision 2030 to increase female involvement in sport as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.
“Netball is an ideal sport to introduce across schools in the kingdom,” said Princess Ghada bint Abdullah Al Saud, chairwoman of Netball Saudi.
“As a game, netball is inviting, accessible, encouraging, fun, and inclusive. Its game rules ensure the equal participation of all players on the court. In netball, everyone contributes equally to the success of the team, regardless of the individual role they play. It is the perfect expression of an inclusive society.”
The MSC Bellissima was delivered in 2019 and has a deck surface area of 450,000 square metres.
As well as having a sports complex, the ship has a wide range of accommodation options, a luxurious spa, a Broadway-style theatre, shopping district, bowling alley and Formula One simulators.