Is Saudi Arabia’s investment in sports really about “sportswashing”?


1. Economic growth: Saudi Arabia’s investment in sports can potentially stimulate economic growth by creating job opportunities and attracting foreign direct investment.
2. Diversification of the economy: By focusing on sports, the Saudi government aims to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, which can lead to long-term sustainability.
3. Enhanced international reputation: Hosting international sporting events can improve Saudi Arabia’s global image and reputation, attracting tourism and foreign investments.
4. Social benefits: The increased focus on sports can promote a healthier lifestyle and encourage community engagement and participation.
5. Talent development: The investment in sports infrastructure and training programs could help identify and groom local talent, fostering the development of athletes in various disciplines.


1. Sportswashing allegations: Critics argue that Saudi Arabia’s investments in sports aim to divert attention from other controversial issues, potentially using sports as a tool for positive PR while human rights concerns persist.
2. Limited impact on overall economy: Some skeptics question the effectiveness of investing billions in sports, claiming that the economic impact may be limited in comparison to other sectors.
3. Gender inequality: Saudi Arabia has faced criticism for gender disparities in sports, with limited opportunities and restrictions placed on women’s participation.
4. Theocracy and strict societal norms: Saudi Arabia’s conservative societal norms and strict interpretation of Islamic law may impact the development and promotion of certain sports or limit athletes’ freedom.
5. Sustainable development concerns: Critics argue that the vast amounts of resources used for sports infrastructure and events could be better allocated towards sustainable development initiatives, such as healthcare and education.

It is important to note that these lists highlight general perspectives and may not encompass all the complexities surrounding this subject.


Saudi Arabia is investing vast sums of money in various sports including soccer, golf, and Formula 1. This ambitious initiative is a crucial component of Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy to boost the Saudi economy.