Middle East

Why 2019 is a Special Year for Sports Development in MENA Region?

MENA Region

2019 proved to be quite an eventful year for the Middle Eastern countries in terms of sports. While most of the MENA region was submerged under different political and economic crises, sport was the only arena wherein each country let go of their diplomatic rivalry and instead focused on winning and hosting some of the major global sporting events.

There is a strong debate on the most historic sports moments that occurred in the MENA region in 2019, with the AFC Asian Cup, African Cup of Nations, and IAAF World Athletics Championship being on the top of the list.

Moreover, Iran’s historic decision of allowing women to watch men’s soccer team play, and Bahrain’s emergence in football during the Arabian Gulf Cup also contributed in making the entire 2019 historic and magnificent at the very least.

Qatar winning the 2019 AFC Asian Cup amidst the presence of notable teams like Japan, South Korea, and Australia, not only opened the gateway for the Middle East North African countries to international football events but also shed light on the striking football talent present across the region.

Similarly, the historic win of Algeria in the African Cup of Nations, after 29 years, gave belief to many that football and sports might be the key to bring a revolution of progressive change in the MENA region.

On the other hand, countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran made a name across the globe due to magnificent performances by female sports players and historic decision concerning women.

Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur achieved 51st rank – the best rank of her career, highest for any Arab female tennis player. She also made it to the third round of the US Open in September, which was her best performance at the Grand Slam level.

Egypt’s performance in Squash during world championship in both male and female domain renewed the belief of many in the region that women are no less than men, in any field.

 Following the decision that allowed women to watch men’s soccer for the first time in 40 years in Iran, more than 3,000 women went to the stadium to witness the FIFA World Cup qualifier between Iran and Cambodia.

The decision was an important step by Iran, a key MENA region country, to display its progressive attitude towards liberal thinking and abolishing the practice of casting off women from every major event.

A historic year like 2019 proves that the MENA region countries have the potential and talent to stand shoulder to shoulder with other renowned sports personalities from western nations. 2019 also showed that the countries in the region are starting to develop a progressive stance and empower women for better future of the region.