Saudi Arabia is to stage its first ever international tennis tournament, a men’s exhibition event, in a “watershed moment for the kingdom”, the country’s top sports official said on Tuesday.
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“Hosting world class international tennis in Saudi Arabia for the very first time is another watershed moment for the kingdom,” said Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, chairman of the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi rulers are using sport to try and soften their international image and to provide a showcase, they say, for reforms inside the oil-rich state.
In February they hosted a first European Tour golf event and they are staging next year’s Dakar Rally.
All this comes after the Saudis faced intense diplomatic fallout over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the conservative kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October last year.
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