Friday, 22 February 2008

Economic and Cultural Integration through Sports in Dubai Sports City

Just like business, sports bring people from different countries, colors, cultures, experiences and backgrounds together. There are many cultural differences between the culture of United Arab Emirates and cultures of other parts of the world in terms of social relations, public and private affairs, business practices, trust, time and obligations. In a Muslim culture for example, religion plays an important role in business practices, which is conducted in accordance to the religious holidays and rituals. In an attempt to harness these cultural differences positively, many countries, including the United Arab Emirates, are promoting local and international cultural integration through sports.

The Dubai is the most notable emirate in the United Arab Emirates with a rich sporting history and tradition. It is evident that the rulers of Dubai have been keen and committed to promoting regional, economic and cultural integration in Dubai through sports. This has been a very important move because the United Arab Emirates is a highly multicultural society with only 15% of its population as its citizens. The rest United Arab Emirates population are foreigners. Camel racing has been the most traditional sporting event hosted in Dubai. Dubai hosts the Nad al Sheba camel racing track. The traditional camel racing event has always provided redefining cultural moments for indigenous Dubai citizenry. The camel racing events in Dubai have also turned out to be major tourist attractions. The 2000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is arguably one of the most prolific sporting events ever held in Dubai. The event attracted most of the world's tennis top-seeds that included Andre Agassi and Roger Federer.

The emphasis on development and expansion of the world and life of sports in the United Arab Emirates parallel to the presence and consistent flow of people from the West to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates has made cultural diplomacy and cross-cultural interaction in the region a feasible and a desirable project. It is the perfect environment to explore the social and economic potential of a more cohesive diplomatic relations between East and West. The relationship between sports and business in the United Arab Emirates, more specifically in Dubai, is the key component that can serve as a neutral platform to expand on the positive socio-economic growth and cooperation between the West and the United Arab Emirates as well as the greater Middle East.

Apart from hosting one of the European Tour golf events in United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Desert Classic, Dubai also hosts the Dubai Sevens round of the IRB Sevens World Series at the Dubai Exiles Rugby Ground. The Emirate of Dubai also hosts the world's richest annual horse race, the Dubai World Cup. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Dubai. Dubai is home to two famous Cricket Stadiums; Dubai Cricket Ground No. 1 and Dubai Cricket Ground No. 2. Football is a game that has fanatic following in United Arab Emirates. Under the aegis of United Arab Emirates Football Association, the Dubai Emirate participates in inter-emirate football competitions and tournaments. The United Arab Emirates national team also features prominently in international football tournaments such as the Asia Cup, Kirin Cup and Gulf Cup.

Dubai also boasts one of the world's most prestigious and state of the art formula one race tracks. The race track is located in the Dubai Autodrome and was opened in 2004 and includes an FIA-sanctioned 5.39km circuit, with 6 different configurations. The Autodrome includes a race and driving school and a CIK-approved karting track. The Dubai Autodrome has been built to world-class standards and in the early half of 2006 started the first national motor racing program in the United Arab Emirates. This includes GTI Cup specification cars such as Golf GTI's. The race and driving school is the first of its kind in the Middle East and caters for both novice as well as experienced drivers.

Dubai's identity as the "sporting capital of the Middle East" has further been enhanced by the establishment of Dubai Sports City. Dubai Sports City is the center-piece of Sports and Outdoor World that forms part of the six theme Dubailand development projects. Dubai Sports City spreads 80 million square feet of sporting venues, academies, exceptional homes, cultural activities and retail opportunities. The ultra-modern and prominent sporting facilities in Dubai Sports City include the following:

  • Dubai Sports City hosts the Dunes, an Ernie Els designed 18-hole Golf Course, Golf Club and world-class Golf Academy
  • Dubai Sports City is the home for an International Club House that has all leisure facilities that cover Tennis Courts and the David Lloyd Tennis Academy
  • Dubai Sports City is the home for the 25,000 capacity Cricket Stadium that hosts international cricket events. The presence of the Cricket Stadium has been complimented by a Global Cricket Academy. In fact, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has permanently moved its headquarters from London to Dubai Sports City.
  • Dubai Sports City hosts a 60,000 capacity multi-purpose stadium that provides venue for football, rugby, and track events. The stadium is complimented by the Manchester United Soccer Schools that offer the opportunity to live a dream and experience firsthand the magic of Manchester United Football Club
  • Dubai Sports City boasts the presence of the 5000 capacity Hockey Stadium
  • Dubai Sports City also hosts 10, 000 capacity multi-purpose indoor sports arena that hosts basketball, handball, netball and volleyball. The arena also hosts concerts and events
The resultant impact of the cultural integration in Dubai through sports has been a higher economic growth rate. The growth and development of sports in Dubai has positively highlighted Dubai's potential as a tourist and property investment destination. The recognition of the multicultural society in the United Arab Emirates has further encouraged nationals from many countries to migrate to Dubai or work as expatriates in Dubai and the other emirates. The increase in the number of expatriates has in turn led to increase in demand for residential and commercial properties. Real estate investment in Dubai has therefore experienced an upward surge in the recent past. In fact, demand for property in Dubai has been so high that it has totally eclipsed supply. For instance, most of the complete real estate investment projects in Dubai Sports City are selling out at a very fast pace. Property in Dubai Sports City has attracted so many residential and commercial property investors, who apart from having access to world-class sporting facilities; they are also set to benefit from great business due to increased tourism and international sporting events.