Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 June 2020

Big break: Saudi Arabia to host major snooker event for first time

The Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will be held in Riyadh from October 4-10 with total prize money of £2.5 million

Ding Junhui on his way to winning the UK Championship at the York Barbican on Sunday. PA
Ding Junhui on his way to winning the UK Championship at the York Barbican on Sunday. PA

Saudi Arabia has added to its burgeoning portfolio after it agreed a deal with World Snooker to host a ranking event for the first time after signing a 10-year deal with the sport's governing body.

The Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will be held in Riyadh from October 4-10 with total prize money of £2.5 million (Dh12.1m) as part of the 2020/21 World Snooker Tour calendar.

The tournament will include all 128 Tour players and the world's top 32 will enter at the third-round stage, with four local players competing in the first round.

"This is a giant leap forward for our sport. We have enjoyed tremendous global expansion over the past decade, particularly in Asia and Europe and we are thrilled to stage a new and momentous tournament in the Middle East," World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said on Sunday.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, chairman of the kingdom's General Sports Authority, added: "This partnership adds further to our hosting of a diverse range of international sports in Saudi Arabia.

"Having held motorsport and boxing events in recent months, and with tennis and equestrian events to follow, we are thrilled to add the Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters, which will see world-class snooker played in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2020."

The news comes just days after Saudi hosted the world heavyweight title rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

Briton Joshua reclaimed the WBA, IBF and WBO titles he had lost to the Mexican-American in June with a unanimous decision to become a two-time world champion.

That event, dubbed the "Clash on the Dunes" was the highlight of the Diriyah Season celebrating a host of high-level sporting and music events, which includes Formula E, the Diriyah Tennis Cup and an equestrian world championship.

Next month, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia will land in Jeddah to contest the Spanish Super Cup. The Dakar Rally will soon follow, journeying for the first time through the kingdom.

All fall under Saudi's extensive Vision 2030 initiative, from which the GSA has committed $650 million to the sports sector.

Updated: December 9, 2019 02:47 PM

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