Having looked the most prominent imports into the Arabian Gulf League from Saudi Arabia, we now cast an eye on those who made the move in the opposite direction as we celebrate Saudi Arabia’s 88th national day.
Former Egyptian international midfielder Hosny Abd Rabo was one of the first to play in both the Arabian Gulf League and the Saudi Pro League, having represented Shabab Al Ahli in the inaugural professional season in 2008-09, before going on to play for Saudi giants Al Nassr and Al Ittihad.
Al Ittihad were also home to Chilean playmaker Carlos Villanueva who moved to Saudi Arabia on the back of seven successful seasons in the Arabian Gulf League in the colours of Al Shabab.
Moroccan international Karim El Ahmadi followed in the footsteps of Abd Rabo in representing Shabab Al Ahli then Al Ittihad. The Jeddah based club acquired another star from the Arabian Gulf League this summer in former Al Jazira forward Romarinho.
Two Asian Player of the Year winners moved from the Arabian Gulf League to the Saudi Pro League; in the winter of 2017, Al Hilal signed striker Omar Khribin from Al Dhafra. The Syrian impressed in his maiden season in Riyadh, helping his side to the 2017 AFC Champions League final while bagging ten goals to be crowned the competitions top scorer. His performances for the Saudi club helped him win the AFC Player of the Year award that year.
12 months earlier, another Omar lifted the award. UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman impressed for Al Ain, winning the AFC Champions League’s Most Valuable Player award and the AFC Player of the Year award in 2016. This summer, the midfielder completed a move to Al Hilal to become the first Emirati to play in the Saudi Pro League in the professional era.
Several players moved back and forth between the two leagues; Syrian playmaker Jehad Al Hussein played for Najran in Saudi Arabia before spending a season at Dubai SC then returned to the kingdom where he continues to impress for Al Taawoun.
Czech manager Ivan Hasek first came to the Gulf to coach Al Wasl before the professional era, and after two separate spells in charge of Shabab Al Ahli, he moved to Saudi Arabia to manage Al Hilal, then returned to the Arabian Gulf League with Emirates then Fujairah where he currently remains.