Dawoud Al Hajiri, Marwan Al Mohammad and Mohammad Mubarak Al Mutaiwei at the opening of Al Maktoum Stadium. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Dawood Al Hajeri, the Director-General of Dubai Municipality, has predicted that Dubai’s new landmark Al Maktoum Stadium will inspire the younger generation into a sporting lifestyle.

“I am convinced this stadium will impact an entire generation of people in Dubai, especially youngsters who want to follow a healthier lifestyle,” Al Hajeri told Gulf News after officially opening the totally refurbished Al Maktoum Stadium at the Al Nasr Club in Bur Dubai on Monday.

“I can see this stadium as an iconic new landmark in Dubai and everyone passing this side will have their curiosity roused and they will at least want to come and be part of this new experience in the UAE,” he added.

The estimated cost of the reconstruction has been closely guarded with the new state-of-the-art facility handed over to the club in the near future, who in turn, will give up possession of the field to the organising committee of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup that is scheduled to be held at eight different places in the UAE from January 5 to February 1.

The refurbished facility is scheduled to host six matches, of which four will be group-stage games, including an intense encounter between Iran and Iraq at 8pm on January 16.

In the past, Al Nasr Club’s executive director Mohammad Ali Al Ghaith has gone on record to say that the club has plans to host a well-known football team for an inaugural friendly match at the new-look stadium. However, plans have been closely guarded and no details of this exhibition have been made public yet.

“We first hand over this facility to Al Nasr after which the club will start getting things ready for the Asian Cup matches,” Al Hajeri said.

South Korea will take on the Philippines at 5.30pm on January 7 for the first official match in Dubai of the 2019 AFC showpiece event. “We expect a huge turnout for the matches in Dubai. There are some interesting games lined up here and we expect these to go houseful.”

The Maktoum Stadium is a multi-use sport complex, that has mostly been used for football matches while serving as the home ground for Al Nasr Club that was established in 1945. The renovated stadium will now accommodate up to 15,000 football fans, up from its previous capacity to 12,000 spectators. The stadium has been built according to European standards and equipped with latest security, lighting and television transmission technologies.

Built as per Fifa specifications, a total of 27 cameras placed at various points will cover matches live at the new stadium, while a distinctive type of lighting has been used that provides fifth grade LED lighting.

“The entire stadium took one year as we had to demolish and re-build from scratch,” Al Hajeri said. “But I feel today we have a landmark that Dubai and the UAE can be proud of. The new stadium has it all, a varied range of services for players, officials and organisers. There are changing rooms, massage rooms and a dedicated gym for the players while also having separate spaces for VAR, match analysis and doping control.”