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SAUDI ARABIA - Sports

Majed Al Sorour

Chairman & CEO, Golf Saudi

Bio

Majed Al Sorour is global businessman and entrepreneur. Football was a key part of his youth, competing at a professional level for Al Nassr Football Club over a seven-year career. Post-football, he furthered his studies at Seattle University in the US, where he completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, specializing in economics and finance. Al Sorour later joined Farmers Insurance Group. After six years, Al-Sorour returned to Saudi Arabia to pursue regional business interests, becoming CEO of Amana Cooperative Insurance, following a successful spell with Bupa Middle East and advisory roles for various companies. On special request, Al-Sorour was appointed CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi in 2018. He was also a board member of Al Nassr Football Club and acts as an advisor to the Public Investment Fund.

"Under Vision 2030 the development of sports is a priority."
Golf Saudi is ultimately working to position Saudi Arabia as a prominent force in the global golfing universe.
What led the country’s authorities to decisively promote the sports of golf in Saudi Arabia?

Under Vision 2030 the development of sports is a priority. I asked His Excellency to create an independent company, but on still owned by the Saudi Golf Federation where we can actually adopt our own bylaws and initiatives. The legwork started in 2018 when we wanted to host the Saudi International for the first time. It started from an idea to promote tourism in the Kingdom as a whole from a business perspective. I am proud to say it is possibly the first international initiative that took place, and it was really from that point on that all the international initiatives in terms of sports started to roll in. After that, we had Formula E, and now we are working on Formula One and have boxing as well. We also hosted the first live concert, and it was under our initiative again before we moved it to GEA.

After the Ladies European Tour, do you plan to continue to attract major international professional golf events?

This is a five-year initiative that started last year. The tour has lost multiple tournaments lately, so we wanted to extend our help by hosting back-to-back tournaments for them called the Ladies Saudi International. The Aramco Team Series is a new concept where we have three professionals playing with an amateur as a team able to contribute to the overall team win. It became one of the most sought-after tournaments, especially after we took it to London when the rest of the world took interest. Everyone is enjoying it so far and that is just one simple initiative among many initiatives.

How are you developing the next generation of sports people in Saudi Arabia?

First of all, what we wanted to do is just see what it is that the economy needs, and if we open a golf course tomorrow what would be required. We went to the schools and signed an MoU with Aramco, the Ministry of Education, and universities. We are keen to identify young talent in Saudi Arabia especially those who graduate with a background of engineering, and interior or exterior design. We developed a curriculum to graduate students either as an agronomist or greenkeeper, a pro-shop handler, or an assistant club manager. In this manner, the sport of golf becomes familiar to individuals throughout their formal education whereby those interested can pursue the goal of becoming a professional with specialization in their own field. We also put together the Ladies First Club. We aimed to provide the first 1,000 women to register free membership and training, and in the first week we had 5,000 women register. Then comes the building of the infrastructure, where we have been working with the academies such as Claude Harmon III and Ernie Els Academy to build multiple academies where players can perfect their game. When it comes to sustainability, we have combined three organizations, which had never been done before, and which has impressed the UN. There is a company called Atlas Turf specialized in growing seeds that suit different conditions, SATIR funds water and soil initiatives to promote efficient seed planting, and the Geographical and Environmental Organization (GEO). We signed an MoU and are the anchor of that MoU enabling them work in unison. That gave us a controlled sustainable amount of water for the ideal irrigation of soil to grow seeds for diverse environments.

What are your main goals?

In the long term, Saudi Arabia will be a worldwide destination for golf and indeed wider tourism. I am only a small part of a huge body of work that the Kingdom has been leading under the vision of Vision 2030. Our goal is to eventually become a prominent force in the global golfing universe, and that is what I am trying to accomplish.

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