Saudi mom, two kids to represent Saudi Arabia at international golf tournament

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Bonding time is a day on a golf course for the Al-Telmissani family. (Photo/Supplied)
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Mohammed Al-Telmissani, his wife Raghdah Al-Essawi, and their children Layla and Omar have been invited to see golf’s superstars at KAEC. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 30 January 2020

Saudi mom, two kids to represent Saudi Arabia at international golf tournament

  • I dream of being first Saudi woman professional, says Layla Al-Telmissani, the golfing family’s teen prodigy

JEDDAH: A golfing Saudi mother and her two children are  to grace the opening day of a major tournament taking place in the Kingdom as their country's ambassadors of the sport. 

Schoolteacher Raghdah Al-Essawi, who only took up the game a year ago, has been picked along with her kids Layla, 16, and Omar, 11, to represent their country at the Saudi International, which starts on Thursday at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

And teenager Layla has revealed her dream of becoming the Kingdom’s first-ever female professional in the sport.

The talented Al-Telmissani family trio was part of the Saudi Golf Federation national team that competed at the Pan Arab Golf Championship in Egypt last year. The event saw the mother and daughter become the first Saudi women to play for the Kingdom in an international golf tournament.

Al-Essawi, from KAEC, who started playing golf at Royal Greens just over 12 months ago, said: “At this moment in time there’s not many people, especially ladies, who play golf or even try playing golf in Saudi.

“But it is such an easy sport to get hooked on. It’s a great family activity and it really does have no age barrier – anyone can start playing.”

As part of the Vision 2030 reform plan, Golf Saudi  hopes over the next 10 years to encourage 1 million Saudis to try golf for the first time. The aim is to grow the game to such a level that by 2030, 50 percent of the population will have access to golf facilities within an hour’s drive of their home.

Golf is considered a strong platform for the Kingdom to promote its sporting vision, ambition and many social and economic opportunities —  all of which will be showcased this weekend when the world’s top golfers vie for prize money of $3.5 million in the second Saudi International, powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Al-Essawi’s husband Mohammed Al-Telmissani, said his family got great enjoyment from playing golf.

“What I love about golf is the time it gives me to spend with my family. When we are out on the golf course our mobile phones are put away, and it’s just great time together. We talk and have fun. That quality, family time is the major attraction to me. On top of that, it’s played in a beautiful location and is an enjoyable challenge.

FASTFACTS

• The mother-and-daughter team of Raghdah Al-Essawi and Layla was part of the Saudi Golf Federation national team that competed at the Pan Arab Golf Championship in Egypt last year.

• Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation are supporting mass family participation in the sport.

“Golf really is absolutely new here (in the Kingdom). Even when I try and describe it to friends or say I’m going out to play golf, they confuse it with other sports — mimicking the action of grass bowls, for example. That shows the low level of understanding and awareness there is for the game here,” he added.

However, Al-Telmissani said he had seen a change over the last year, with people starting to travel and commute to KAEC to play the game. “A golf community exists here, and there’s a lot of motivation in that.

“There are some really great players here in Saudi Arabia now. I’m very excited to see where golf could take Layla, Omar and my wife in the coming years,” he added.

Last week his daughter Layla was inches away from a hole-in-one on Royal Greens’ most famous hole, the par-3 16th, where tournament champion Dustin Johnson landed his ball in the water in his final round last year.

What I love about golf is the time it gives me to spend with my family. When we are out on the golf course our mobile phones are put away, and it’s just great time together.

Mohammed Al-Telmissani

Layla, who also does gymnastics and plays basketball, badminton, and volleyball, said: “My dream is to become the first Saudi woman professional. Golf is very stress relieving. Being out on the course takes you to this whole different environment, and I like that.”

For her brother Omar, the game of golf is all about trying to hit the ball as far as possible. “Golf is really fun to play. It’s exciting hitting a good shot,” he said.

Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation are supporting mass family participation in the sport.

“It has been a real pleasure for us seeing how Mohammed, Raghdah, Layla and Omar have all taken to the game of golf. They are a joy to have around the clubhouse at Royal Greens and are really developing as players,” said Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal, adviser to the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

“At Golf Saudi we are committed to the five pillars we consider central to growing golf in Saudi Arabia: Developing access and infrastructure, nurturing talent through golf academies, promoting mass participation, hosting world-class events, and bringing international players of all abilities here as a means of golf tourism,” the prince added.


Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

Updated 10 August 2020

Saudi Arabia working on coronavirus vaccine with Chinese company

JEDDAH: The third phase of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is to be carried out on at least 5,000 volunteers in Saudi Arabia after clearing mid-stage tests.
In an effort to expedite vaccines against coronavirus, the Ministry of Health announced its preparedness to launch the third phase in health centers across Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam. The clinical trials come as part of a ministry agreement with the Chinese vaccine developing company CanSino.
The findings of the first randomized controlled trial, published in The Lancet, resulted in the vaccine appearing to be safe and inducing a significant immune response in the majority of recipients in the second phase.
The vaccine uses a harmless cold virus, known as adenovirus type-5 (Ad5), to carry genetic material from coronavirus into the body.The volunteers will be over the age of 18.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press conference on Sunday that epidemiological analysis had shown a fluctuation in confirmed coronavirus cases, with a slight increase potentially caused by social gatherings during Eid Al-Adha that did not adhere to health protocols.

“These numbers are currently at a slight increase, but they are not a cause of major concern (at the moment) for outbreaks or clusters,” the spokesman said.
Estimates of COVID-19 patients needing critical care have decreased in the past three days and the current curve shows a 5.5 percent decrease in admissions. There are currently 1,816 patients in Saudi Arabia receiving critical care.
The Kingdom recorded 1,428 new cases on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 288,690 since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were 1,599 new recoveries, raising the total number of recoveries to 252,039. There are currently 33,484 active cases.
Saudi Arabia recorded 37 new fatalities on Sunday, raising the coronavirus death toll to  3,167.
There have been 58,424 polymerase chain reaction tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to over 3.8 million.