Thursday 18 July 2024

Speakers at the Sports Tourism: the Commercials
Opportunities session

Dream big, WiMENA conference urges women in sports

LONDON, June 13, 2024

The inaugural WiMENA Women in Sports Conference in London last week delivered a resounding message of support for women and girls in sport in the Middle East and North Africa.

Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Stadium was the apt venue for an extraordinary gathering of passionate and influential leaders and athletes from around the world at the conference, which discussed a range of topics relevant to the sector.

Organised by WiMENA Sport in partnership with the Arab British Chamber of Commerce and supported by BSF, Portas, and Wasserman, the conference was inaugurated with stirring speeches from Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, Chairman, Arab British Chamber of Commerce; and Lord (Tariq) Ahmed of Wimbledon, UK Minister of State.

Their Royal Highnesses Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom; and Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the US, took part in the Opening Session of conference titled: Sports as a Messenger of Gender Equality.

They emphasised the urgent need for a global commitment to empower women and girls in sports at all levels -- from grassroots participation to professional competition, and in sports commerce and administration.

Princess Reema urged girls across the MENA region to "dream big" in sport, affirming, "We are behind you, let’s kick this off."

This sentiment was echoed by Prince Khalid highlighting steps taken by the kingdom in the sector and the road ahead. He also inspired the audience by prioritising his daughters' school sports day, underscoring the importance of personal support.

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, DBE, Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, delivered a moving speech that resonated deeply with everyone present. She highlighted the transformative power of belief in young girls, sharing her own experience: "It all starts with one girl. I always felt I could do anything because my parents believed in me."

Her message to parents everywhere was clear -- our belief in the potential of women and girls in sport can catalyse meaningful change.


One of the key sessions at the conference - Sports Tourism: The Commercials Opportunities - was moderated by Jubran Abdulrahman, Publishing Director of Al Hilal Group, Bahrain. The session highlighted investment opportunities across the region in sports and related activities. It was participated by Dr Raj Joshi, Expedition Leader, Adventure Boutique; Brigitte Stangl, Senior Lecturer in Tourism, University of Surrey; Arwa Abdulrahim Al Bulushi, Commercial & Investment Attache, Embassy of Oman, UK; and Cassandra Heilbronn, CEO & Former Sports and Corporate Risk Lawyer.

Other sessions included:

* Unlocking Sports Potential - moderated by Katie Storie, Director of Sports at Newcastle University

* Sporting Role Models: Setting the Bar for Future Generations - moderated by Janie Frampton, OBE, Vice President of the International Federation for Sports Officials and the Greater Birmingham Global Chamber of Commerce.

* Technology in Sport - moderated by George Vaughan, CEO, the Digital Line

* Country Focus: Saudi Arabia’s Sporting World - moderated by Donal McElwee, Managing Partner, Portas Consulting.

Bandar Reda, Secretary General & CEO, ABCC, made the closing remarks.

The WiMENA Conference marked the beginning of a series of cross-market collaborations aimed at driving empowering change for women and girls in sport on an international scale.

"Our vision is to create an inclusive global playing field where women fuel the growth of talent and sports economies. We are committed to supporting the women and girls who are shaping the future of sport," said Tara Thomas and Laura Curtis, Co-Founders and Directors, WiMENA.

"This is only the start of our journey towards a more inclusive and empowering world for women in sports," they said extending thanks to all sponsors, speakers, and delegates for making the groundbreaking event a tremendous success. - TradeArabia News Service


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