ABU DHABI, 21st November, 2022 (WAM) — World-class sporting events tend not to overlap on the same weekend in the same part of the world every year. So for sports fans around the world, especially local F1 and football lovers, this weekend in the Middle East will be of particular interest, commented a local newspaper.
“Just like in the UAE, fans eagerly await race day for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and with all the teams involved in the World Cup arriving in Doha, the one-hour flight from the UAE to Qatar is exciting too. ,” the National Party said in an editorial on Monday.
Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup is a “historic milestone for all Arabs”, in the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
“Indeed, the point of this cultural moment is for the record books; if sports fans aren’t watching the game, they’re being sucked into the football craze. For the Arab world, a country with millions of fans and quite a few football clubs, it’s is a very prestigious issue and deserve the opportunity to show their best side. A huge positive of these events is the accompanying travel,” the newspaper continued.
Fans visiting a certain stadium in one Gulf country are likely to hop over to neighboring stadiums, as proximity is a good reason to enjoy the sights, experience the uniform hospitality, and the multiculturalism and cuisine that the entire region is known for.
In doing so, a crucial and rare opportunity also arises: fans of the tour are pleasantly surprised when oft-cited negative regional and cultural stereotypes are proven wrong. One of the benefits of tourism is that when preconceived assumptions don’t match reality, it often brings more authentic experiences back home, leading to a virtuous cycle of more tourists, more businesses and less biased impressions.
The daily added that “this is an opportunity for the Gulf region to showcase itself as tourists are likely to fly to the UAE, Oman and Bahrain.”
These world-class events are being held ‘at home’, an important chapter in sporting and cultural history and the undeniable pride of millions in the Middle East and North Africa. What is sometimes underestimated is the depth of football tradition that exists in the MENA region.
Whether it’s Arab ownership and funding that nurtures young talent at the global grassroots level, or the revival of world-renowned clubs that require financial resources and leadership, the list goes on and on.
The national team’s achievements on the field are also worthy of recognition, whether it is Egypt’s seven Africa Cup of Nations titles, or Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ impressive performances in the Asian Cup, Olympics and World Cup. These success stories stem from the robust club structures established in several of these countries. For example, there are five major clubs in the emirate of Abu Dhabi alone.
“Finally, the Middle East has been home to some of the biggest football events in recent years. It’s worth recalling that the UAE hosted the last Asian Cup in 2019. The World Cup should now be held in this neighbourhood, which is great for Qatar and the wider Arab world. It is really the icing on the cake,” Abu Dhabi Daily said.