Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom in the Middle East, is launching a new sports investment group as part of its ambitious economic diversification and social reform agenda. The group will be part of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country's $650 billion sovereign wealth fund that is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
The PIF has been making headlines in the global sports scene with its recent moves in golf, football, motorsports, and other disciplines. The fund aims to boost Saudi Arabia's sports industry, attract international events and talent, and enhance the country's image and soft power.
One of the most notable deals was the merger between LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed league that challenged the dominance of the PGA Tour, and the PGA Tour itself, along with the Dubai-based DP World Tour. The merger, announced in June, created a new global gold entity that will offer more than $200 million in prize money and host events in 29 countries.
Another major acquisition by the PIF was the purchase of Newcastle, a Premier League football club in England, for around $408 million in 2021. The deal ended a long saga of negotiations and legal battles, and gave Saudi Arabia a stake in one of the most popular and lucrative sports leagues in the world.
The PIF has also invested in Saudi Arabia's domestic football scene, luring some of the world's top players with lucrative contracts. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most famous and decorated footballers in history, joined Riyadh club Al-Nassr earlier this year. Other Muslim stars, such as Riyadh Mahrez, Hakim Ziyech, and Yassine Bounou have also been linked to moves in the kingdom.
Besides football and gold, Saudi Arabia has also hosted and sponsored other sports events, such as Formula One races, WWE shows, boxing matches, and e-sports tournaments. The kingdom has also developed its own sports infrastructure and facilities, such as the Jeddah Yacht Club, which offers sailing opportunities to locals and tourists.
The PIF's new sports investment group will seek to expand its portfolio and presence in the global sports market. According to the Financial Times, the group could target investments in tennis, American football, and other sports that have a large fan base and a potential for growth.
The PIF's sports investments are part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the country's economy away from oil dependence and modernize its society and culture. The plan also involves investing in other sectors, such as tourism, entertainment, technology, and renewable energy.
Bu investing in sports, Saudi Arabia hopes to create new sources of income, jobs, and opportunities for its young population. It also hopes to promote its national identity, culture, and values through sports diplomacy and exchange. And it hopes to enhance its reputation and influence in international areas by hosting world-class events and supporting global causes.