Saudi Women Rise in Sports: Breaking Barriers and Inspiring Futures

The Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee has reported a remarkable 52% increase in the number of registered female athletes within its 54 sports federations. The year 2023 witnessed an impressive surge, with 2,026 female athletes registered, showcasing a substantial rise from 992 in 2022.

The committee’s second technical evaluation for 2023, released recently, not only highlights the surge in female participation but also reveals notable advancements since the strategy’s inception in November 2021. The overall technical progress across the federations has seen a commendable increase from 84% to 93%, indicating an 11.6% improvement in the development and support of these sports bodies.

This surge in female participation is part of broader efforts to enhance sports engagement in the country. The total number of registered athletes reached an impressive 336,739 in 2023, marking a significant 12% increase from 297,130 in the previous year.

Another remarkable achievement is the substantial increase in the number of female coaches, recording a 61% rise with 97 new coaches in 2023 compared to 38 in 2022. The male coaching staff has also expanded, with 2,445 coaches in 2023, reflecting a 34% increase from 1,620 in the previous year.

In a parallel development, the strategy has successfully incorporated Paralympic athletes into the fold, with the registration of six new female Paralympic athletes and 59 male Paralympians in 2023, accompanied by three new coaches. These athletes and coaches have actively participated in 11 Paralympic championships throughout the year, highlighting the inclusive nature of sports development in Saudi Arabia.

As a testament to this sports revolution, the Kingdom hosted an impressive 838 championships in the past year, reflecting the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape of sports in Saudi Arabia. The surge in female athletes, inclusive growth, and increased technical progress underscore Saudi Arabia’s commitment to fostering a diverse and thriving sports culture.

Here is a glimpse of some remarkable Saudi female athletes who have made significant contributions to their respective sports:

1. Sarah Attar – Track and Field Athlete: Sarah made history as one of the first Saudi women to compete in the Olympics, participating in the 800 meters at the 2012 London Games.

2. Lina Al-Maeena – Equestrian: Lina has showcased her prowess in equestrian sports, contributing to the growing presence of Saudi women in this field.

3. Wojdan Shaherkani – Judo Athlete: A trailblazer, Wojdan was the first Saudi woman to compete in judo at the Olympics, participating in the +78 kg category at the 2012 London Games.

4. Reema Abdullah – Football Player: Reema has played a pivotal role in breaking barriers as a female football player in Saudi Arabia, inspiring a new generation of athletes.

5. Lubna Al-Omair – Fencer: Lubna has excelled in fencing, representing Saudi Arabia with skill and determination on the international stage.

6. Yara Al-Hogbani – Tennis Player: Yara has made a mark in tennis, showcasing her talent and contributing to the rise of women in sports in Saudi Arabia.

7. Aseel Al-Hamad – Motor Racing Driver: Aseel is a trailblazing motor racing driver who has shattered stereotypes and paved the way for women in the male-dominated world of motorsports.

8. Tahani Al-Qahtani – Volleyball Player: Tahani has left an indelible mark in volleyball, representing Saudi Arabia with distinction and adding to the growing success of women in sports.

9. Mariam Saleh Binladen – Swimmer: Mariam has excelled as a swimmer, showcasing her skills in the pool and contributing to the growing achievements of Saudi women in aquatic sports.

10. Dalma Rushdi Malhas – Equestrian: Dalma, an accomplished equestrian athlete, made history as the first Saudi woman to compete in Olympic equestrian events at the 2012 London Games.