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Fayik Abdi takes Arabia from sand to snow

It's a historic day for Saudi Arabia! For the very first time since their creation in 1924, the kingdom participates in the Winter Olympics. Carrying the hopes of a whole people on his shoulders, the alpine skier Fayik Abdi is leaving to represent his compatriots in Beijing.

The 24th edition of the Winter Olympics, organized this year in Beijing, is a symbol for the Saudi team which has qualified for the first time for the great international event. And Fayik Abdi, an alpine skier and the only athlete in the delegation, is carrying the hopes of his people as well as those of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

“I am filled with pride to see the first ever Saudi team at the Winter Olympics at the opening ceremony in Beijing today! They inspire us by proving that there is no limit to their ambition,” said Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, who happened to be a spectator at the ceremony.


A hopeful participation

The selection is symbolic for the kingdom. The Saudi Arabian Winter Sports Federation was created only two years ago. The country launched a major campaign to develop the talents of national athletes, and Fayik Abdi has responded. Abdi is not only the first Saudi competitor in the Olympic giant slalom event, but he is also the first actor in a ski film made entirely in his native country.

Abdi’s participation in the Winter Olympics is causing a stir among fans of the sport, who are surprised to see Saudi Arabia, a country more famous for its desert than for its ski slopes, send an athlete to compete in alpine skiing. Let’s hope that the performances will be there!