In another historical first for Saudi Arabia, the country has qualified to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Announced by the Saudi Press Agency, skiers Salman Al-Howaish and Fayik Abdi have qualified to compete in the Alpine skiing races at the upcoming games running from February 4-20, 2022.
Both Al-Howaish and Abdi have achieved the qualification points to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. According to the international skiing federation (FIS), Al-Howaish has qualified for the slalom, while Abdi has qualified for the giant slalom. It is now up to the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee to decide on the finalist according to a number of technical criteria, and the rules and regulations of the Winter Olympics.
This moment is set to go down in sports history as Saudi Arabia—a country where high temperatures of 50 degrees celsius are the norm in the summer, and which has never participated in a Winter Olympics to date—will see its flag at the games’ opening ceremony. The participation also marks a first for all GCC countries.
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The Kingdom will be competing against nations currently on the list including Austria, Norway, India, Brazil, Ghana, Haiti, and the Philippines. There are also competitors with no medal-winning record in the sport, such as violinist Vanessa Mae, who represented Thailand at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Kingdom’s participation was celebrated by Saudis all around the world, including HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US. She took to her Instagram to share a video of the athletes skiing with the caption, “Extremely proud of these ground breaking athletes! Salman Al-Howaish and Fayik Abdi will be representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in #WinterOlympics #Beijing2022.”