Sports in Dubai have a $1.7 bn economic impact: Just warming up

September 10, 2018 8:00 am

Of all the sectors creating an economic footprint in Dubai such as real estate, technology, banking, hospitality, tourism, and others, one could easily take sports for granted, not giving it the respect it truly deserves.

Deloitte said in a recent report titled ‘Economic Impact of Sport in Dubai’ details how sport, which has been part of the fabric of Dubai for more than 40 years, leads to $670 million of economic impact with an economic footprint of more than $1.7 billion a year.

These figures, while not astronomical, reflect the success of a carefully developed sports industry, with Dubai investing in sustainable facilities that attract elite sports events and contribute to the sports participation agenda of the UAE.

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Sports is good business

Deloitte spoke to stakeholders from more than 30 organizations in Dubai’s sports sector across events, facilities and sports associations.

“Despite the UAE only being in existence since 1971, Dubai’s sports industry is approaching that of leading cities in other economically developed countries in terms of its economic scale and contribution,” the report notes.

Total gross expenditure related to sport in Dubai is $1.7bn, including direct and indirect spending from all sources, local and international, and accounts for approximately 0.8% of Dubai’s GDP.

The sector attracts around $100 million in sponsorship, which the report considers being a well-developed market, also employing over 14,000 people or 0.6% of the city’s total workforce.

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Shot in the arm

The Dubai Sports Council (DSC) made a foray into the world of genomics and genetic testing to use it for the growth of sportspersons from the UAE, signing a deal with Finland-based biotechnology firm Evogenom Oy.

Gulf News reported that Genomics basically deal with research that provides athletes a better understanding of their bodies and protecting youngsters from serious injury.

“Genetic profiling is an essential tool for proper athletic activity and sports selection, as well as for the formulation of individualized and personalized training and nutritional programmes for optimizing health and performance for the athlete,” reports Gulf News.

“Gene analysis provides tangible benefits in training and recovery and the analysis can also provide reliable and safe medicine recommendations,” Hannu Tolvanen, Ceo, Evogenom Oy, noted.

“The list of data provided by Evogenom is up to 700,000 points of detailed information about the athlete,” he added.

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Dubai’s 6 major sports venues

Dubai organizes major events including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Dubai (cycling) Tour, Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships, Dubai World Cup (horse racing), DP World Tour (Golf) Championship and the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.

1-The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is an annual professional golf tournament which takes place in Dubai. In 2018, the purse was set for $3 million with the winner’s share coming in at $500,000.

Course: Emirates Golf Club

Month played: January, February

Date founded: 1989

Length: 7,319 yards

Tour: PGA European Tour

Par: 72

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2- Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon – The race is held in January each year, the first being run on 14 January 2000. In April 2007, it was announced that the 2008 race would become the world’s richest long distance running event in history, with $1million offered for a world record and $250,000 for first place for both the men and women. In 2018, Geremew Bayih, Mosinet (ETH) won it in 2 hrs 4 min 11 seconds in 2018, running 42.195km competing against over 30,000 participants who paid an entry fee of $130.  

3- Dubai Tour-The Dubai Tour is an annual professional road bicycle racing stage race held in Dubai, which began in 2014 as part of the UCI Asia Tour. Held from 6-10 Feb 2018, involving 5 stages, Elia Viviani became the first Italian to win it, following the Briton Mark Cavendish (2015) and the German Marcel Kittel (2016, 2017).

Organisers: Dubai Sports Council, RCS Sport

Prize money: $16k- $17k

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4- The Dubai Tennis Championships- The Dubai Tennis Championships is a professional tennis tournament owned and organized by Dubai Duty-Free and held annually in Dubai, on outdoor hardcourts. In 2018, it was held from Feb 19, to Mar 3.

Prize money: US$3 million (2018)

Arena: Aviation Club Tennis Centre

Category: ATP World Tour 500

Tours: Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association

5- 2018 Dubai World Cup- The Dubai World Cup is a Thoroughbred horse race held annually since 1996 and contested at the Meydan Racecourse which in Arabic suggests a place where people congregate and compete. On March 31, 2018, it boasted a total prize pot of $30 million across nine top-class group races throughout the day, with the main event worth $10million – in 2019, the prize will be upped to $35 million.

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The DP World Tour Championship– The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, is a golf tournament on the European Tour and is the climax of the European Tour Race to Dubai. It is contested on the Earth course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.

Date founded: 2009

Prize fund: $8 million

Month played: November

Tour: PGA European Tour

Par: 72

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6-Dubai Sevens– The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens is an annual rugby sevens and social event held at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai, UAE. Founded in 1970, the event is the longest running sports event in the Middle East. The next dates are Nov 29, Nov 30  and Dec 1. As many as 277 rugby teams and 689 rugby matches take place across the three days on all eight pitches.

Tickets:  $315-$420

 Entrance: At least 100,000 people will pass through the gates

Past winners: 2016/17 – South Africa; 2015/16 – Fiji

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Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.