By Andy Sambidge
Football official refutes dispute over policy to deny entrance for single unaccompanied women
Saudi Arabia has denied being excluded from the bidding process to host the Asian Cup in 2019 over its policy to deny entrance to the country for single unaccompanied women.
The Saudi Press Agency quoted Adnan Al Moaibed, spokesman and board member of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) as saying that the country is still in contention for the bid.
The Gulf kingdom is competing with the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Iran and Thailand, after China dropped out of the process, news agency WAM said.
In a statement issued after a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation, Al Moaibed said they had received an invitation to participate in a workshop taking place in Kuala Lumpur later this month for countries that had applied to host the prestigious tournament.
Last month, local daily Al Sharq quoted an unnamed official as saying that although Saudi Arabia had the capability of organising the finals, the issue surrounding female supporters was "crucial".
“Several countries have companies that organise trips for the games and these invariably include women. The problem is that Saudi Arabia does not allow women who do not have male relatives with them to enter the country,” the official reportedly told the paper.
UAE is a blueprint for allowing and accepting outside (western/eastern) lifestyles while maintaining a strong foundation of its faith. In contrast, why does KSA find it so difficult to resist being so hardlined? UAE has much more to offer than just the Petroleum sector. KSA, once it runs out, granted a long time from now, still has a very long road to developing alternative draws or commercial propositions to companies and visitors to the Kingdom. I think that if we had the same wealth back home, we'd be storing it all and spending very little, from individual to organisation. Then again, Canada spends 1% of its GDP on defense. That should be changed...but that's off topic.
It is a fair point actually as women in Saudi have to travel with a male relative. And having the 2019 Asian cup in Saudi Arabia would discriminate against women. Though I cann't understand which single woman in her right mind would want to travel to Saudi Arabia, probably an investigative journalist. Out of the list I feel that Thailand and the UAE are the most visitor friendly nations to hold the 2019 Asian Cup and they are world known travel destinations with a good hospitality industry.