Prince Musa'ad: Premier League to help Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 tourism dream

Kingdom looks to build on the success of the Dakar Rally, Formula E and the Saudi Cup with more sporting events

Sheffield United Chairman Prince Musa'ad bin Khalid Al Saud during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)
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Prince Musa'ad bin Khalid Al Saud believes the English Premier League's global reach will provide a great platform for Saudi Arabia's sports tourism vision.

Speaking to The National, the Sheffield United chairman said major sporting events involving the kingdom will build on the recent successes of the Dakar Rally, Formula E and the Saudi Cup horse race.

As part of its Vision 2030 strategy, Saudi Arabia is seeking to promote tourism.

Prince Musa'ad recently joined the Saudi British Joint Business Council (SBJBC) and is sure that working together, the UK and Saudi Arabia can achieve "great" sporting successes.

His father-in-law, Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, owns Premier League side Sheffield United.

The side are currently bottom of the Premier League and  facing relegation.

However, Prince Abdullah has said that if Sheffield United are relegated, he believes they can "bounce right back quickly" to the Premier League.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:   General view outside the stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Arsenal FC at Bramall Lane on October 21, 2019 in Sheffield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The family owns a portfolio of teams globally under its umbrella organisation United World – Al Hilal United FC in Saudi Arabia, Indian side Kerala United FC, Beerschot in Belgium and the recently acquired French Ligue 2 side Chateauroux.

Prince Musa'ad, the youngest chairman in the Premier League at the age of 26, believes the global reach of the clubs will greatly benefit the kingdom in the future.

"I look forward to Sheffield United adding value to the SBJBC and for our parent company, United World," he told The National.

“We believe the sports sector is emerging rapidly and has a global reach. The Premier League is a great platform for many entities to promote many things, such as tourism.

“Sports tourism has emerged globally, especially in Saudi Arabia. We have proudly hosted many global sports events in the past two years – such as Dakar, Formula E and the Saudi Cup.”

Tourism and entertainment are expected to become major contributors to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product by 2030.

The SBJBC has been bringing together industry experts to discuss ways to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding tourism sector.

“I believe this joint business council has a lot of joint opportunities and win-win situations to achieve for companies in Saudi Arabia and the UK,” Prince Musa’ad said.

“The beauty of the sports sector is that it has a global reach and everyone is engaged. We look forward to achieving great things in Saudi and in the UK through the SBJBC.”

The world’s most famous desert rally, the Dakar Rally, was held in Saudi Arabia for the first time last year.

Following the success of the event, it returned to the kingdom in 2021 – the 43rd year of the off-road endurance event – with a new route.

"The rich tapestry of landscapes in Saudi Arabia offers an almost infinite number of permutations to give the route of the Dakar a better flavour," the organisers said.

"Just as 2020 was a quest of discovery, the 2021 route was a journey of exploration."

Last month, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returned to the historic surroundings of Diriyah, on the north-west outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh, for the third season in a row and held the event’s first night races.

It saw Britain's Sam Bird maintain his record as the only driver to triumph in every year of the electric series.

The Saudi Cup was also held in February, and saw racehorses from 13 countries take part.

Saudi Vision 2030 is a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.