DiplomaticQuarter: Sporting diplomacy – Sisters star as Riyadh women shoot for glory

The Riyadh United and the Diplomatic teams with the trophy at the end of the basketball championship. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 02 May 2019
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DiplomaticQuarter: Sporting diplomacy – Sisters star as Riyadh women shoot for glory

  • Next year the second round of the basketball tournament will be held at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University

RIYADH: A sports project that brought Saudi women and their diplomatic counterparts together on the basketball court came to a triumphant end on Tuesday with an all-female final between a Riyadh team and a rival squad made up of envoys from around the world.
The project was launched by Shoura Council member Lina Al-Maeena, a co-founder of the Riyadh United basketball team, and Dominique Mineur, Belgium’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
In the tournament final, however, it was Al-Maeena’s sister and teammate Dania who became the heroine, breaking the deadlock in the final few seconds of extra time to seal victory for Riyadh over the Diplomatic team including players from Belgium, Switzerland, Taiwan, Algeria, UK and the US.
Among the crowd were Hind Al-Zahid, undersecretary for women’s empowerment at the Ministry of Civil Services, and Shoura Council member Moudy Al-Khalaf, who sat next to each other and cheered on both teams.
Dr. Salwa Al-Hazza, head of the ophthalmology department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, and Martina Strong, charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Riyadh, awarded medals and trophies to the players.
After the final, Lina Al-Maeena told Arab News the tournament had helped to strengthen relations with the international community in Riyadh.
“It’s public diplomacy ... through sport because health is wealth, and that is why we are here,” she said.
“We build bridges and make contacts. Instead of gathering for a luncheon, this is an amazing way to do three things at the same time: Taking care of ourselves, communicating and building friendships in a positive social environment between the diplomats and the Riyadh United team.”
Al-Maeena has high hopes for the team. “We will evolve into something better, but most importantly it is a great message to the world.”
She credits Vision 2030 for making this possible. “We are women of different ages who want to show that we will continue to empower through health.”
Mineur said the diplomats had enjoyed the chance to meet their friendly Riyadh rivals and promote women’s sports.
Next year the second round of the basketball tournament will be held at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University.


Saudi pilot Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s first flight celebrated

Hail International Airport and Nesma Airlines celebrated the first official flight of Saudi pilot Capt. Yasmeen Al-Maimani. (GACA)
Updated 27 min 56 sec ago
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Saudi pilot Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s first flight celebrated

  • Yasmeen Al-Maimani has a commercial pilot’s license (CPL) from the US

RIYADH: The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), represented by the management of Hail International Airport and Nesma Airlines, celebrated the first official flight of Saudi pilot Capt. Yasmeen Al-Maimani, 29, on Sunday.
Al-Maimani made her first official flight between Hail International Airport and Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Qassim, becoming the first Saudi woman to fly a commercial aircraft as a co-pilot with Nesma Airlines.
She received the opportunity after the airline advertised vacant positions for co-pilots on its New Pilots Program — 11 were accepted, including Al-Maimani, who has a commercial pilot’s license (CPL) from the US.
Following their acceptance into the program, the pilots underwent a four-stage training regimen at Prince Sultan Aviation Academy in Jeddah, including practice on multi-engine planes with multiple crews.
Ground training using an ATR 72-600 aircraft at Nesma Airlines’ training center in Hail followed, before progressing to simulators in Jakarta and Madrid.