Here's Why Entrepreneurs Should Explore Opportunities Offered By The UAE's Robust Sports Tourism Sector

The UAE's robust regulatory framework and exceptional infrastructure are the two key elements paving the way for the Middle Eastern nation to become an industry leader in sports.

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By Ata Shobeiry

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A diverse and fully-packed lineup of sporting events year after year is quietly placing the UAE at the epicentre of global sports tourism. From world-class sporting infrastructure to the cutting-edge hospitality sector and the capacity to organize massive events, the UAE is in the perfect position to capitalize on its position as a hub for sports tourism.

In 2021, the sports sector added AED9 billion to Dubai's economy alone, making 2.3% of the Emirate's annual GDP. The sector is also credited with the creation of 105,000 job opportunities, accounting for 3.8% of the total employment in Dubai.

But Dubai is not the only UAE city to host widely loved international sporting events. Abu Dhabi is a frequent recipient of awards that recognize it as a leading sports tourism destination worldwide. And the Emirate often clinches these accolades from older, more established sports destinations, including London, Tokyo, and Seoul.

Sports tourism is now a fast-growing market sector globally, and it is a key area of focus for the UAE as well. To reflect that ambition, the upcoming sports calendar for 2023 is just as packed and versatile, showcasing a range of sporting events from UFC 281 to Formula 1 Grand Prix and T10 cricket that are expected to attract droves of sporting fans from around the world.

Related: Using Sports As A Force For Good

The factors behind UAE's leadership in sports tourism

The UAE's robust regulatory framework and exceptional infrastructure are the two key elements paving the way for the Middle Eastern nation to become an industry leader in sports. But at the heart of it all is the UAE's relentless ambition to be world-class. The UAE's sporting industry benefits massively from government support and is considered to be an integral priority sector.

These versatile sporting events also underpin the UAE's growing leadership as one of the world's best destinations to live, work, study, and invest in. To further strengthen its appeal as an international sports hub, the country is developing relationships with international sports bodies and institutions and upping its sports game by continuing to make relevant investments in infrastructure development.

The UAE also boasts many event management specialists and sports medicine experts, and it is well-positioned to become the leading sports injury prevention and rehabilitation destination and a hub for sports science.

Becoming a sports tourism hub also falls in line with the UAE's strategy to capture tourists as it gears up to welcome 8.9 million visitors in 2023. This, coupled with its distinction of being a very safe and family-oriented destination, its multitude of adventure sports options, seamless global connectivity, world-class hospitality, and year-round sunshine, make it a hard-to-miss destination.

The spillover effects of sports tourism

But the UAE's appeal does not quite stop there. The UAE is also in the perfect position to benefit from leading sports events in the region, such as Qatar's hosting of the FIFA 2022 World Cup. The spillover effect of the 1.2 million spectators descending in the GCC is already being felt by the country's tourism, aviation, retail, and real estate sectors. More specifically, Dubai is becoming the event's primary beneficiary, owing to its proximity, unmatched hospitality appetite, major entertainment attractions, airline connections, and now its multiple-entry tourist visas for the FIFA World Cup ticket holders.

Both the retail and hospitality sectors will enjoy a boost from higher tourist numbers to the tune of millions of dirhams. The said boost is also evident in cruise ship tourism in the country, with a record number of tourists interested in trips to the UAE, particularly around the winter months, to enjoy its many offerings and wide range of sporting events.

Sporting events benefit the UAE's economy in many ways. Apart from its hospitality and retail sector welcoming droves of visitors, the country's real-estate sector also enjoys an uptick in the form of increased demand for short-term rentals. Some of this also converts into real estate deals. The F&B industries also get their fair share of boosts with everything from catering services to restaurants and cafes enjoying greater footfall and bookings.

These are the many reasons why entrepreneurs eyeing this sector should feel confident to seize any opportunities that might come their way.

Related: How Sports And Entertainment Industries Go Hand In Hand

Ata Shobeiry

CEO Zoom Properties

Ata Shobeiry is the CEO of Zoom Properties

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