Dubai: The inaugural edition of the Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 which kicks off on Friday with four teams competing will expand Dubai’s global football destination status and grow into a stand-out fixture on the emirate’s annual sporting calendar.
A collaboration between the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), the Dubai Sports Council, and Gallop Global, the Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 will feature four teams: Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli, Morocco’s Raja Casablanca, China’s Wuhan Three Towns, and Egypt’s Zamalek SC. The three-day tournament will run from January 26-28 at Al Maktoum Stadium, home to UAE Pro League side Al Nasr.
The opening match will kick off at 6pm on Friday and pits 14-time Egyptian champions Zamalek against Raja, the three-time African Champions and eight-time winners of the Moroccan Cup, while the following evening will see Al Ahli take on Wuhan, again at 6pm. Sunday’s final day will start with a third-place play-off at 4pm followed by the previous days’ winners meeting at 8pm.
Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, said: “Dubai has solidified its status as a preferred destination for leading international teams, attracting them for training camps and participation in tournaments of this calibre annually. Our objective is to foster the growth of football, strengthen collaboration between local and international clubs, and offer fans of diverse nationalities the opportunity to immerse themselves in the spirited atmosphere of competitive matches while passionately supporting their teams. With Dubai being home to over 200 nationalities, we are committed to providing this annual platform for fans to follow their favourite teams.”
He went on to highlight the success of last year’s Dubai Super Cup, which featured powerhouse European clubs such as Liverpool, Arsenal, Lyon, and AC Milan, as a springboard for the Dubai Challenge Cup to build on. He expressed satisfaction in presenting this edition with four prominent clubs from Asia and Africa, each boasting a substantial fan base. Hareb emphasised that Dubai’s organisational expertise, coupled with the world-class facilities of Al Maktoum Stadium, will significantly contribute to the success of this eagerly anticipated tournament.
Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said: “In addition to expanding Dubai’s already extensive events calendar, the Dubai Challenge Cup is strategically positioned to draw an enthusiastic crowd, reinforcing Dubai’s position as a premier international events destination.
“Staging major sporting events aligns with Dubai’s tourism strategy, and we anticipate that the tournament, featuring prominent international clubs, will not only enhance the city’s global appeal but also contribute substantially to the economic growth of the tourism sector. The Dubai Challenge Cup will generate significant impact across various industries, benefiting hotels, restaurants, transport, and numerous businesses throughout the city.”
Vast fan base
Abdullah Salem Bin Touq, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Nasr Football Company, commended the collaboration with the Dubai Sports Council and the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai for organising this event, underscoring Dubai’s leadership and its reinforced position as a premier host for diverse sports events.
Bin Touq commented: “We take pride in hosting this tournament at Al Maktoum Stadium, an exceptional destination of sport and architecture, serving as a gathering point for the world’s most prominent clubs and a spot that captivates sports enthusiasts.”
He continued: “We eagerly anticipate welcoming thousands of fans from our brotherly Arab nations and our friends in China. Equipped with the necessary capabilities, expertise, and experiences, we are poised to elevate Dubai’s events to unprecedented levels of excellence. Our commitment is to create an atmosphere that allows the audience to relish the matches, and we are confident that the participating teams will deliver performances befitting their heritage and vast fan base, transforming the event into an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.”
Finally, Ivan Modia, CEO of Gallop Global, said: “The inaugural Dubai Challenge Cup has been in the pipeline for some time and, as kick-off finally approaches, the excitement is at fever pitch. To have some of the biggest teams from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia involved in our first edition is testament to the ambitions we hold for this event. None of this would have been possible without the support of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism and the Dubai Sports Council. We truly believe this can become a stand-out fixture in the region’s annual sporting calendar and can’t wait to see how the first edition unfolds.”