American Go E-Journal

Korea Go Report: Saudi Arabia Includes Go in Government Project

Saturday March 5, 2022

By Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

Kim Myungwan teaching Go in Ryiadh/Saudi Arabia. Foto courtesy by Kim Myungwan and Majed Alharthi

The Saudi Arabian government’s Vision 2030 strives to reduce its dependency on oil. One of the vision’s components, the “Quality of Life Program” (QLP), was launched in 2020 with a huge budget of 35 billion USD and aims to enrich the standard of living of Saudi citizens by creating new opportunities for cultural, arts, and sports activities. In this regard, the government has selected the mind sports Go, chess, and bridge to be part of the QLP.
The leader of the Go project, Dr. Majed Alharthi from King Abdulaziz University, explained that they had conducted some research on which mind sports to include in the program. At the end of 2019, after coming across some studies on the positive educational effects of Go, he visited the Secretary-General of the International Mind Sports Association, Thomas Hsiang (who is also VP of AGA and IGF), to discuss the idea of selecting Go. Naturally, Hsiang strongly affirmed that idea and recommended contacting Kim Myungwan 9p as he had plenty of experience teaching Go abroad during his ten-year stay in the USA until 2018.
Plans were delayed due to the pandemic but recently, Alharthi invited Kim Myungwan 9p to Saudi Arabia to offer a 9-day workshop from January 15th to 23rd to 12 Saudis from various professions: teachers, chess players, and government officers in their 20s to 50s. Kim’s mission was to provide a beginner’s course to train future Go teachers. As part of the daily six-hour training, he taught the participants basic Go techniques, concepts and had them play practice games. It is hoped that each participant would teach twenty new Go players and grow the game steadily in their local communities.
“Saudi Arabia’s enthusiasm for Go is amazing. Before I arrived, they even had made their own Go textbooks, despite being beginners themselves”, recalls Kim after his visit. For now, they aim to target university students and increase awareness of Go in students’ mind sports clubs. However, in the future, they intend to expand the program to elementary school students. Alharthi, who participated daily in the workshop commented, “Let’s find a way to continuously and efficiently promote Go in Saudi Arabia.” The enthusiastic project leader hopes to soon sign an MOU with the Korean Baduk Association to grow the seed planted.

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