As gulf news celebrates its 30th anniversary, we find out what the prominent people in the UAE think about the progress the nation and the newspaper has made
Over the past three decades, sport in the UAE has transformed from being a mere hobby and pastime to a highly competitive profession, according to former UIM Class 1 World Powerboat champion and one of the top sports administrators in the UAE, Saeed Humaid Al Tayer.
Al Tayer started his sporting career as a handball player and then switched to powerboat racing, where he reigned supreme in the 90s.
He later switched to endurance riding before settling down as a leading sports administrator. He is currently Chairman of the Emirates Racing Association, as well as Meydan LLC, a horse-racing city conceived by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, apart from running his own businesses including Al Tayer Motors.
"During those days studies were the main focus and many practised sport as a hobby," said Al Tayer, who won back-to-back world tiles in powerboat racing in 1995 and 1996.
"Even though there were quite a few highly talented nationals in many disciplines, once they got to high school and university levels, sports took a back seat. This resulted in many good UAE sportspersons failing to reach their potential," he said.
Commenting on his success that saw him win 11 Grand Prix races, two Pole Position trophies and 17 podium finishes, Al Tayer attributed it to team work.
"Our entire team worked towards one goal and that was winning. "If you ask me I only had to do 10 per cent in driving the boat while the remaining 90 per cent I owed to the team who prepared the boat and maintained it with the same winning mentality."
Focus on infrastructure
"The success of the UAE in more recent years has been mainly due to the government's focus on infrastructure development. Like in all other fields there has been tremendous investment in sports infrastructure and this has played a positive role in shaping modern UAE sportspersons," Al Tayer said.
"Apart from the development on the infrastructure front, sports administrators are leaning more towards a professional approach and this has resulted in change. A lot has to do with the mental attitude.
"Particularly as a sport administrator, one's success depends on how you handle a team and ensure they work towards a common goal. The right attitude makes the difference between success and failure."
Al Tayer noted the role played by Gulf News in the promotion of sport in the UAE and Class 1 Powerboat racing in particular.
"Gulf News underlined the importance of sports like powerboat racing through their detailed and professional coverage from the early days," he said.
"Powerboat racing was new to the region in the late 80s and early 90s, and I think Gulf News helped to project it as an exciting and competitive sport through its columns.
"It was mainly through the media exposure that the sport began to grow in the region. This in turn boosted the performance of the UAE's powerboat team, which went on to achieve great success worldwide in the sport."