Colm McLoughlin has been synonymous with the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Duty Duty Free Tennis Championships will continue to tell the ‘Dubai Story’ to the world, according to its Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO.

Colm McLoughlin.

“The [Simona] Halep win was a lovely story to document and tell the world. It was her 20th career title in the 20th edition of our tournament and in 2020 when Dubai is expectantly looking forward to host the Expo 2020. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better finish to the women’s tournament and a better story to tell from Dubai,” McLoughlin told Gulf News.

“Halep had won here in 2015 and she is now the world No 2. She had some amazing matches here, especially that one against Ons Jabeur where she could have lost and we wouldn’t have had such a fairy tale to put into our record books,” he pointed.

McLoughlin was pleased with the first week of tennis bringing in a record 37,000 people, around eight per cent more than last year. “The increase in numbers is satisfying as well as that too tells our story. Over the years, people have travelled to Dubai during this time of the year so that they get a chance to see some great tennis,” McLoughlin disclosed.

This is the 28th year for the men’s competition, while the women’s tournament completed two decades last week. “The main thing for us each year is to see how we can measure this story-telling. When we started off [in 1993], the men’s was a 250 event, and then it went on to become a 500 event. Next we purchased and added the women’s tournament, and all this is so much part of the storyline today,” he observed.

“When we opened Dubai Duty Free, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, told me that part of our duty would be to promote Dubai all over the world. And that’s what we’ve based all this on,” McLoughlin added.

The world governing bodies for men’s and women’s tennis, the ATP and the WTA, regularly send in audited figures to organisers. “As per figures supplied to us for 2019, the total value of the coverage for Dubai from a media point of view was worth $1.3 billion. This is inclusive of all platforms, television, print, social media and even spectator turnout. This just shows how we have grown as an event over the years. Today, we have a proper tennis stadium, a whole chain of restaurants and an on-site hotel of our own,” McLoughlin noted.

“If at all we had a chance to turn back the clock, then perhaps would have built a bigger stadium with a bigger capacity. At the moment, our stadium capacity is 5,000 people and in hindsight, it would have been good to have a 10,000-seater venue. But that said, we don’t regret for a minute that we have a proper stadium here,” he added.

The Dubai Tennis Championships also proved its worth on the global stage while becoming one of the few events will equal prize money for men and women. “Yes, ours is one of the events in tennis that gives equal money to both men and women, and we wouldn’t think of changing anything there,” McLoughlin insisted.