Saudi Arabia will host its first snooker championship after the World Snooker Tour confirmed the country’s addition to the 2024 calendar.
The 10-man playing field is set to feature the seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and the reigning world champion Luca Brecel, with the rest of the competitors to be announced in the coming weeks.
Steve Dawson, Chairman of the World Snooker Tour, said: “It is a great privilege for the World Snooker Tour to work in partnership with HE Advisor Turki Alalshikh to stage an event in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
“This is a huge breakthrough for snooker into a new territory, and we see this as the beginning of a new adventure for our sport in the region.
“We are looking forward to being a part of Riyadh Season on this fantastic new event featuring the world’s best players. We will be honoured to bring our sport to the amazing city of Riyadh, and for the local fans this will be their first chance to see some of snooker’s all-time greats.”
The Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker event will take place 4-6 March at the Boulevard Arena in Boulevard City bringing along with it a new concept.
Whilst every game in Saudi Arabia will be played under World Snooker rules, the March event will introduce a 23rd golden ball which will be worth 20 points and can only be potted once all other balls have been cleared from the table if the player is on a maximum break for 167.
Alalshikh added: “We are thrilled to be hosting our first-ever professional snooker tournament in the Kingdom.
“Snooker is watched and played by millions around the world and we look forward to welcoming some of the greatest players and snooker fans to our country and showing them what Saudi Arabia and Riyadh Season has to offer.”
Adding snooker to its growing list of hosted sports events further accelerates Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to become a new destination for world sports.
The country has invested heavily in bringing some of football’s biggest names such as Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League, as well as hosting numerous high-profile boxing bouts. Saudi Arabia is also the heavy favourite to land hosting rights to the 2034 FIFA World Cup.