On Sunday evening, a record 17 million Indian subscribers of Disney Hotstar, an OTT platform, were glued to their mobile phone screens watching India take on their arch-rival Pakistan in the inaugural match of Asia Cup 2022 being played in Dubai. Close to a billion others watched the match with equal attention on their television sets, not only in the subcontinent, but across the globe.
The match, part of the 15th edition of Asia Cup T20 international tournament, was yet another reminder of the eminent place that Dubai enjoys, not just as a mecca of cricket, but also as a global sporting hub hosting a vast variety of high-profile world-class events.
Dubai’s world-class sports, hospitality and tourism infrastructure and an unrivalled ability to successfully organise mega-events were instrumental in the UAE’s selection as tournament host. Over the next 16 days, Dubai plays host to 10 of the 13 Asia Cup fixtures, including the title clash on September 11. The UAE is hosting the Asia Cup for the fourth time, with Dubai also hosting the title clash in the previous edition, when India beat Bangladesh to lift the Cup in 2018.
Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council (DSC), said the UAE has always been keen to cooperate and collaborate with the world, and Dubai is proud to offer its infrastructure for Asia Cup fixtures. “Thanks to the vision of our leadership, hosting large-scale international sports events, including the Asia Cup, one of cricket’s biggest contests, reinforces the UAE’s position on the global events map. It is a huge vote of confidence by the international community in our robust infrastructure and event-management capabilities,” he said.
According to the Dubai government, the emirate has repeatedly proven its capability of successfully hosting world-class events, including Expo 2020, the largest event ever held in the Arab world. In fact, during the six months of the Expo 2020 (October 2021-March 2022), Dubai hosted more than 30 international sports events, including the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers, cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup, and the European Tour’s ‘Race to Dubai’ finale, the DP World Tour Championship. Different countries participating in Expo 2020 also organised several sports-related events at the Expo’s Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub, featuring some of sports’ biggest names.
For Dubai government, sports is an important sector of the economy and works as a magnet to attract tourists as well high-profile sports players from around the world. “The sports sector is an important contributor to the local economy, part of an ambitious vision to upgrade all parts of the sports ecosystem and increase the sector’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP. We aim to continue offering amenities that guarantee Dubai and the UAE’s sports leadership at regional and international levels. The emirate has emerged as the destination of choice for global tourists, business visitors and sports communities. The world has reposed confidence in our ability to welcome everyone safely and securely. We are grateful for our leadership’s vision and the efforts of our frontline heroes for this accomplishment,” Sheikh Mansoor said.
Along with trade, tourism and culture, sport plays a critical role in the growth of any global city. Dubai’s leadership sees sports as a strategic economic development driver that significantly impacts tourism and the emirate’s global reputation. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed reiterated that DSC views international sporting events in Dubai with absolute earnestness and ensures that the Council leaves no stone unturned to make every event a stellar success.
In addition to being a destination of choice for year-long sports tournaments, Dubai has also emerged as the preferred training venue for the global sports fraternity. The city now boasts several top teams – from football and cricket to boxing and golf – visiting Dubai’s world-class training facilities throughout the year to recharge their skills and prepare for the various tournaments and title clashes. Dubai was also a preferred location for international athletes to train ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.