Despite the desert and barren land, how the UAE became the world’s first choice for sports and international tournaments


New Delhi: The United Arab Emirates, which did not have a special identity on the world stage until a few years ago, has emerged as a world-class sports venue in the last few years, which surprised everyone. The country has proved its worth on the global stage in terms of cricket, football, Formula One, tennis, golf and hosting the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). However, football is the UAE’s first choice of local people and there are countless football stadiums and football clubs, just as the government has created facilities for all sports in the UAE with a vision and policy of looking at the possibilities in all other sports. . Along with creating a safe environment, a new chapter of sports tourism has started in this tourism-oriented economy. This month the UAE is going to host the Asia Cup 2022.

The UAE has hosted many cricket events over the years. T20 World Cup, IPL and Pakistan Super League (PSL) have been organized many times. The country hosted them during COVID-19 and this makes the UAE extremely special in hosting sporting events. Hosting major cricket tournaments for the United Arab Emirates is not a foreign concept.

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UAE’s Sharjah hosted the first cricket

Cricket came to this country as early as 1981, when Sharjah started hosting specialized international players even before hosting its first international tournament. Since then, the United Arab Emirates has grown strongly, hosting the first part of the 2014 IPL and the full season of the 2020 IPL. It also hosted Pakistan’s international matches for almost a decade after the 2009 Lahore terror attack.

The country, which brought international cricket in the 1980s, got the opportunity to host one of the biggest tournaments in the world, the ICC T20 World Cup (October 17 to November 14) and will now host the Asia Cup. The tournament was supposed to be hosted by Sri Lanka, but the political crisis forced the Sri Lankan board to move the tournament to the UAE. According to a report on the economic impact of sports in Dubai, more than $1.7 billion is spent in total annual sports-related spending, and the total economic impact of sports in Dubai is more than $670 million.

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Grand Prix and football are also popular

Anees Sajan, Vice Chairman of Danube Group, also known as Mr. Cricket UAE, said that the UAE is playing a major role globally due to its convenient travel access. “As we have hosted events such as the Grand Prix and the Football Cup, the UAE government has also been very supportive to the global sports community. Given the culture and adaptability of the nation, many sportspersons often come here to take advantage.

“About cricket, the UAE has top-notch facilities in all its stadiums including the ICC Stadium, Dubai Stadium, Sharjah Stadium and even the Abu Dhabi Stadium. The facilities of these grounds make it easy to host international competitions. I think UAE will become more famous in the world of cricket because of 2023 international T20 league.

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Dubai’s boom in indoor sports

Manish Kishor, Managing Director of U-Pro, an indoor sports center in Dubai and the COO of a franchise in the Delhi Bulls that played in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, spoke about the immense potential for the development of sports in Dubai. “What we are seeing in the UAE sports world is a huge demand, behind this approach is the amazing sports infrastructure created by the leaders,” he said.

Manish Kishor says that as a cricket fan, the audience watched the 2018 Asia Cup in UAE and now the second Asia Cup is going to happen. Veteran Shyam Bhatia, one of the founders of cricket in Dubai, recalls that today the UAE is the first choice of all sporting organizers on the world stage, but there was a time when this desert did not have a cricket ground. It was a big challenge to gather 22 players and get a big field. In the 70s, the Royal Air Force Sharjah used to have only one cement pitch.

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In 1967, Shyam Bhatia took a good initiative for this, which made playing cricket a little easier. Then when Emirati businessman Abdul Rahman Bukhari came back to Sharjah after studying in Pakistan, he organized the first cricket tournament in Sharjah and shaped cricket in the United Arab Emirates. Shyam Bhatia says that the contribution that Indians have made in the rise of cricket in UAE, no one can deny the contribution of the organizers and players as well as Pakistani players.

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