Industry Expertise Needed to Complement Government Spend on Saudi Arabia’s Health & Fitness Infrastructure

442Saudi Arabia’s first International Sport and Fitness (ISF Saudi) exhibition launches next month, promoting the importance of an active healthy lifestyle and providing an ideal platform for key stakeholders—businesses, organizations, government bodies and consumers—to connect and engage in open dialogue.

To raise awareness and increase community involvement, Reed Sunaidi Exhibitions, organiser of ISF Saudi, assembled a panel of industry professionals to examine the role played by sports and fitness companies in shaping the attitudes of the Kingdom’s residents towards adopting a healthy lifestyle, as well as to discuss the challenges and the developmental needs of the sports industry. Some of the main contributors included Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, Delta Fitness Authority (distributors of Adidas, Life Fitness and Pavigym), Green Vision (Saudi Arabia’s leading supplier of turf grass), Olympia Gym and Technogym.

Noting the 300% increase in the number of domestic sports companies in the Kingdom over the past four years, and the annual growth rate of 8% in the sports retail sector, the industry group acknowledged the need for proactive involvement from sports and fitness companies in raising awareness, across all age groups and genders, about the importance of healthy living.

Simon Blazeby, Director of Exhibitions at Reed Sunaidi said: “ISF Saudi is more than an exhibition: it is a socio-economic platform that will allow the sport and fitness industry to take collective responsibility and promote health and wellbeing to the Saudi public. One of the main goals of the exhibition is to educate and encourage the Kingdom’s residents to become health conscious and to adopt a lifestyle of fitness, especially given the increased prevalence of diabetes and hypertension—the rates being between 20 and 25% among the male and female population”.

With health and fitness currently being at the forefront of the government’s agenda, the industry professionals also discussed the developmental requirements of the sports industry, namely the need for more expertise in the field, either sourced domestically or internationally, and increased governmental funding of projects and sports related entrepreneurial ventures. The sports equipment and infrastructure needs are currently valued at USD 20 billion, with plans to invest USD 1.3 billion in sports infrastructure in 2015.

Noting the role of governmental spending on sports, Nasser Marwan Obaid, General Manager at Delta Fitness Authority, commented: “King Abdullah Sports City, a new multi-use stadium and sports city 60km north of Jeddah, is a USD 4 billion investment and one of the biggest sports infrastructure projects in the Middle East. With an additional eleven stadiums being built in various cities across the country, the importance of family and education institutions in promoting the value of fitness and sports cannot be stressed enough. ISF Saudi is an opportunity that not only allows us to assemble the industry, but to advance the health status level on a national scale.”

Ayman Ali Al Shahari, Commercial Director at Green Vision, a high quality artificial grass solutions company established in Saudi Arabia in 2007, added: “Through sponsoring ISF Saudi we aim to help promote the development of sports infrastructure in the Kingdom. In addition, our current collaboration with thirty governmental departments for the expansion of artificial grass pitches highlights the focus and commitment at the highest level.”

ISF Saudi, powered by FIBO, a worldwide leading trade fair for fitness, wellness and healthcare, will take place at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events from 24-27 November 2014.

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