The influence of sport on Dubai's tourism sector

Barnaby Read 15:47 25/08/2014
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Premier event: The Dubai Rugby 7s brings a host of the games finest teams and players to the region.

In recent years a very deliberate move has been made by Dubai to host a number of major sporting events, and the city has began establishing itself as a hub for international sporting competition.

The regular Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, golf’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Emirates Rugby 7s and Dubai Tour have become renowned for their pedigree.

Add to that the first leg of this year’s IPL to the UAE’s sporting calendar – which was received with great clamour – and the U17 World Basketball Championships, ONE FC’s biggest fight night and FINA Swimming World Cup (the latter two take place this weekend) and you can appreciate the city’s sporting prowess and progression.

It has been a determined effort by all involved and one that Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is proud to be at the forefront of as these events continue to contribute to the country’s tourism industry.

“Playing host to such an impressive selection of sporting events, Dubai is fueling huge growth in sporting tourism within the region year on year,” Hamad Mohammed Bin Mejren, executive director of DTCM's Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, told Sport360. “Attracting visitors from across the world on account of its unrivalled sporting offering and world-class venues, Dubai is fast-becoming a global destination for sport.”

The city still has a whole host of sporting action to look forward to this year, including the New Zealand and Australia cricket series against Pakistan, who use the UAE as their cricketing ‘home’.

Bin Mejren believes not only is the appetite there for these events, but that the city is also well set to host them on an increasingly regular basis.

He added: “With a captive audience of residents and visitors ready and raring to check out all that Dubai has to offer, event organisers are keen to bring bigger and more renowned [sports] tournaments to the emirate. This in turn has encouraged further development of world-class stadiums and sporting venues in the city, and also ensured that other internationally acclaimed events apply to be hosted here – on account of the quality and reach of those that have gone before.”

The UAE’s geographical position is also something that Bin Mejren sees as a major positive when attempting to bring events to the region. As a perfect stop that links East, West, North and South, the location and financial prowess of the country plays into organisers hands.

And as a country made up of Emiratis and a large amount of expats, the hunger for live sport is in just as high demand as it is varied. With the help of stakeholders, media and venues – to name but three – the city has all the tools at its disposal to supply to both those demands.

“Home to more than 200 nationalities, Dubai is an energetic and dynamic city,” said Bin Mejren. “Perfectly situated between East and West, more than one third of the world’s population live within a four hour flight and millions of leisure and business travellers visit every year on account of the city’s renowned hotel and F&B offering.

“The Dubai Events division of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Calendar undertakes market research in order to facilitate and ensure the successful arrival of events in the city – ensuring that the events that excite and inspire residents and visitors arrive in Dubai.

“Similarly, as the tourism authority, we have strong and long-standing relationships with many key event partners within the emirate, from hotels and restaurants to event venues and media. Through these relationships, we have fostered a dedicated network of stakeholders, which ensures that hosting events in the city is a seamless process.”

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