Aramco public affairs general manager Talal Al-Marri explains why the Saudi energy and chemicals giant became one of the biggest backers of women’s golf via the Aramco Team Series, and what the company looks for in a sports sponsorship.
Q. How did you come to be title partners of the Aramco Team Series?
A. We launched the Aramco Team Series in November 2020 in partnership with the Ladies European Tour, with the aim of elevating women’s golf and extending our commitment to female advancement through sport.
At Aramco, it is our vision to become the world’s preeminent integrated energy and chemicals company, operating in a safe, sustainable and reliable manner. Our female employees are already playing key roles in driving us toward this vision.
Through the Aramco Team Series, we are extending our efforts in female empowerment to the world of golf by providing an exciting new platform through which women can excel in this global sport, while also inspiring the next generation of girls to pursue their dreams and achieve their potential.
Q. Why did Aramco decide to become one of the biggest backers of women’s golf?
A. Aramco has a long history of supporting sports, including having built Saudi Arabia’s first golf course in 1945. This later developed into our recent sponsorship of Saudi Arabia’s first ever women’s golf tournament.
Building on that, the launch of the Aramco Team Series highlights our strong efforts towards gender equality and female empowerment in the world of golf by providing an exciting new platform through which women can excel in this global sport.
Through the Aramco Team Series, we hope to inspire the next generation of women to embrace their dreams and pursue their potential.
Q. What effect do you think the Aramco Team Series has had on the game and the Ladies European Tour?
A. We believe that ATS brings an exciting new format of golf to the professional circuit by teaming three professional players with one amateur player. The format was first trialled in November 2020 during the Aramco Saudi Ladies International tournament. It has been very successful and quite popular with the players, successfully drawing international golf talent.
From the professional side, we have managed to attract many stars in the sport, including Emily Pedersen, Anna Nordqvist, Charley Hull, Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda, Georgia Hall, Danielle Kang, Alison Lee, Lexi Thompson, Ariya Jutanugarn and Patty Tavatanakit.
Q. What do you hope it can achieve in future? Could we see it expand?
A. In line with our efforts to empower women, our key objectives behind the Aramco Team Series are to promote gender equality and help narrow the prize gap in men’s and women’s golf tournaments.
In terms of expansion, we were thrilled to launch the 2022 series in Thailand, adding a fifth event after a successful debut season with four events in 2021. We have seen a tremendous response from players, fans and partners alike.
Q. Beyond giving Aramco greater prominence, what impact is the series having on grassroots golf and female participation?
A. The ATS has had a strong effect on the sport in Saudi Arabia, particularly for the domestic audience, who place a significant amount of trust in the company, not only as a steward of Saudi Arabia’s large energy reserves but as an employer of choice, an enabler of talent and a driver of national economic development.
The Aramco Saudi Ladies International tournament was the first professional ladies’ sport event in the history of Saudi Arabia, a major occasion and therefore a vital moment in the equality movement in sports.
This is an exciting way to encourage women not only to play golf but also to be active and enjoy the outdoors. We’re all inspired by seeing top professionals do what they do best. Women having access to these events and seeing the outstanding Ladies European Tour golfers play will open up the sport to more women in Saudi and elsewhere in the world.
At Aramco, we have an ecosystem for female empowerment including a range of business, leadership, and mentoring programs that fast-track the development and advancement of our female employees. We sought to emulate and develop that with our sponsorship of the ATS.
Q. What does Aramco look for in a sports property when considering whether to partner with it?
A. We carefully consider all sports sponsorships. We first want to see if Aramco’s values and principles are aligned with the sport – be it the organiser, event, team or player. And we also consider how we would be able to positively impact the sport and its community through our sponsorship.
Q. Is Aramco’s involvement likely to continue to grow, and could we see it enter new sports, such as football?
A. We are excited to be in this position to grow along with the ATS and ladies golf in Saudi Arabia and beyond. The addition of Thailand for a fifth ATS event this year was a great success and we look forward to more growth in the future.
We sponsor other sports outside of golf, including Formula 1 racing and cricket’s Indian Premier League, and always ensure that their principles are aligned with ours.
For example, F1 has been at the forefront of automotive engineering – accelerating innovation on and off the track for over seven decades. In a similar fashion, Aramco is also driving advances in transport technologies, from more efficient engine solutions to future fuels.
We are also proud to be associated with the Indian Premier League, one of the world’s biggest and most exciting sporting spectacles.
Our sponsorship of the Orange and Purple caps, awarded to the leading batsman and leading bowler throughout the tournament, reflects Aramco’s commitment to excellence – and our drive to be the world’s preeminent oil and petrochemicals company with engineering excellence at the core of our DNA.