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Image Credit: Reuters

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it plans to bid to host the 2034 World Cup, the latest step in a campaign to turn the kingdom into a global sports powerhouse.

The bid "intends to deliver a world-class tournament and will draw inspiration from Saudi Arabia's ongoing social and economic transformation and the country's deep-rooted passion for football", said a statement from the Saudi Arabian football federation.

News of the bid comes one year after neighbouring Qatar hosted the first World Cup in the Middle East, where the Saudi national team stunned the world with a group stage defeat of eventual winners Argentina.

On the heels of that tournament, Saudi Arabia signed Cristiano Ronaldo to play in the Saudi Pro League, the first in a slew of major stars drawn by eye-watering salaries to play in the world's biggest crude oil exporter.

Sport is a major component of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman's (MBS) Vision 2030 reform agenda, which aims to transforms Saudi Arabia into a tourism and business hub while transitioning away from fossil fuels.

In the coming weeks, the kingdom is set to host the final LIV Golf League tournament of the regular season, a boxing match featuring Anthony Joshua and the Next Gen ATP Finals tennis tournament.

It will also host the FIFA Club World Cup in December.