Commodore, Royal Saudi
Hajer Football Club in Al-Ahsa is considered one of the oldest clubs in the Kingdom. And it is the first and probably the only sports club in the Kingdom that used the image of a plant on its badge. The club since its establishment around the year 1949 used the palm tree as its emblem. The palm tree has been Al-Ahsa’s trademark for thousands of years. Al-Ahsa Oasis is considered to be the largest oasis in the world and used to have the highest numbers of natural springs in the world. The water in Al-Ahsa is still bubbling since prehistoric times. The location of Al-Ahsa is considered one of the most unique in the Kingdom. It is in close proximity to all Gulf states and two major Saudi cities — Riyadh and Dammam and it has three big cities, Hofuf, Mubaraz and Alayoun and 10 villages. Al-Ahsa is one of the few cities that can be accessed by plane, car and train. Many historians believe that Al-Ahsa has been inhabited since 4000 BC. It used to be one of the largest cities in the world about 1,000 years ago. It has one of the richest histories in the area. It came in the international economic news when Al-Ghawar, which is the world’s largest oil field, was discovered in 1948. This past weekend, Al-Ahsa celebrated the achievement of Hajer Football Club when it was elevated to the Saudi Football Premier League, which is named after its sponsor, Abdulatif Jameel. The achievement is hailed because most of the players are very young and are school students who are playing in professional secondary league called after its sponsor, Rika’a. The league consists of 16 teams from around the Kingdom and when the season started many of the sports fans and analyst expected the team to lose every match and go to the lower league. All sports fans were taken in for a surprise. They became the top team even though they had a rough start at the beginning. Football in the Kingdom is taken very seriously and it is the national sport. But what pushed Hajer Football Club to the spotlight is the fact that its managers are very young and highly educated and the players are very young and they still go to schools. The top manager is Sami Al-Mulhim and he is one of the most talented football club managers. He was chosen only a year ago at a time when the team was not doing so good. He reportedly told the team that there is nothing required of them except that they should not move to the lower league. With careful planning, determination from the players and enthusiastic fans, the team simply gave its best performance and the players brought back the fond memories of the glory days of the club. Hajer Club’s name is chosen from the ancient name of Al-Ahsa, which for thousands of years remained an economic hub. The area and its people were known for their talents and love for handicrafts. It is one of the most populated areas in the Kingdom with the highest number of villages. Some of these villages are bigger than many towns and many of them are surrounded with lush green sceneries. The scenery from Jabal Al-Gharah (mountain) is breathtaking with millions of palm trees across 360 degrees of beautiful horizon. At the end of the day, Al-Ahsa is in for a big celebration for such big achievement by their young football players. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Hajer Club and the Palm Tree reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.