Women’s professional golf tournaments are set to hit Saudi Arabia for the first time next month.
The ground-breaking events will take place at the Royal Greens Golf Club and in the form of the Saudi Ladies International, 12-15 November, and the Saudi Ladies Team International, 17-19 November.
Speaking via the BBC, Alexandra Armas, the Ladies European Tour chief executive, commented: “We are extremely excited to be part of history in bringing the first professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia,
“We are thankful to their commitment to deliver not one but two tournaments, in what has been a difficult year for golf.”
However, some feel that this is a purely tactical move from Saudi Arabia to distract from the current human rights issues. In fact, Meghan MacLaren pulled out of the event, which was originally scheduled for March, on grounds of “sportswashing”.
Despite these concerns, the £1,280,000 prize fund spread across the two competitions is undoubtedly a sign of the continuing growth of women’s golf as an entity.
Swiss Ladies Open champion Amy Boulden commented on the new venue, via the BBC:
“It’s given players another massive week to look forward to competing in and allows us to take the game we love to a new country where we can play on what is a truly incredible golf course with one of the most picturesque views you’ll see on Tour.”
While gender inequality remains rife in the Middle East there have been some recent improvements that deserve to be noted.
With a decree for equal gender pay in the UAE’s private sector coming into effect just last month and a World Bank report naming Saudi Arabia as the most improved nation in relation to gender equality at the start of this year, hopefully steps are beginning to be made in the right direction.