The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is committed to being a top sporting destination in the Middle East. Frequent staging of headline international events, including the Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2009-16, The Dubai World Cup, as well as local and overseas sponsorship of athletic tournaments and teams, has cemented the country’s profile as a leader in the sports tourism industry, yet with immense potential for growth.

Several of the sports and events hosted in the UAE have huge fan bases willing to invest considerable time, money and resources to see their favourite players and events. It is common to see tourists from India, Pakistan, China and the GCC attending major sporting events in the UAE.

The drive to become a sports tourism destination has seen the UAE invest heavily in facilities for motor racing, yachting and water sports, cricket, football, tennis, basketball, cycling and golf. The UAE’s mild, dry winters enable the country to host several sporting events during the off-seasons in Europe, North America and Asia.

In September, Dubai will host the 2017 World Indoor Cricket Federation (WICF) World Cup. Abu Dhabi is set to host the 2019 Asian Cup and the UAE will stage the 2020 FINA “Short Course” World Swimming Championships.

Sports sponsorship

Sports sponsorship of high-profile sporting events and teams, has raised the profile of UAE. The airline Etihad Airways is now the second most identifiable brand in the country. Etihad’s far-reaching global marketing spend, including Manchester City and F1 continues to grow, with the airline renewing its sponsorship of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship through to 2020.

Fantasy sports

Fantasy sports is a large global business and currently shows no signs of slowing or declining. Fantasy Sports are popular as they allow you to follow your team daily, to connect with fellow fans as well as providing some excitement. This has led to questions over the future of gaming, particularly around regulation and legislation. The UAE prohibit all forms of online and offline gambling, including sports betting and have the tools and resources to enforce these laws.

There are 2 Emirati online daily fantasy sports sites that offer gameplay in Arabic or English and accept wagers in Euros, UAE Dirham or US Dollars. These are TopBetta, from Australia that offers prizes to the player placed at the top of the leader board and The Fantasy Football that offers no entry-fee competitions.

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