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Contestants during the UAE Cycling Tour at Al Wasl, Expo 2020 in Dubai. Image Credit: Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai: Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council (DSC), said on Monday that the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, supported by a robust regulatory framework and an active lifestyle, had enabled the emirate to consolidate its position as the world’s preferred hub for sports, in addition to being a destination for business, tourism and education.

Sheikh Mansoor made these remarks while chairing the third meeting of the DSC’s Board of Directors, during which he announced that the sports sector’s contribution to Dubai’s economy exceeded Dh9 billion in 2021, rising to 2.3 per cent of the emirate’s GDP for the year. Sheikh Mansoor also announced that the sector supports the creation of 105,000 job opportunities, accounting for 3.8 per cent of the total employment in Dubai.

Sheikh Mansoor said: “We are proud of the significant growth in the contribution of the sports sector to Dubai’s annual GDP. In addition to nurturing and fostering Emirati and expat athletes living in the UAE and ensuring the community’s health and happiness, the sports industry is now a significant economic contributor.

Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski, Leonardo Bonucci, Alexia Putellas, Roberto Mancini and others after receiving their awards from Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at The annual Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“At the DSC, we were keen to measure this growth in the contribution of sports to Dubai’s economy. In line with international best practices, we conducted a study in association with a major global consultancy. The study analysed and calculated the economic contribution of sports across different areas of the industry, including sports tourism, investment in sports training academies, sports events, and others.

Strengthening relations

“The sports sector benefits from Dubai’s position as the world’s preferred destination for living, working, studying and investing. The DSC supports the industry and the increase in its contribution to GDP by strengthening relations with international sports institutions and bodies. The Council offers state-of-the-art facilities that support the work of local and international event organisers, which contributes to the growth of the sector.”

The report showed that among the areas that contributed to the increase in the sports sector’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP were factories manufacturing sports equipment and sportswear, outlets retailing bicycles, sportswear and equipment, physical training and fitness centres, and cycling tracks and sports centres. Several sports, including padel tennis, gymnastics, and yoga, benefited from Dubai’s robust regulatory and physical infrastructure and increased active lifestyle among different members of society. The availability of specialists and experts in events management and sports medicine was also a contributing factor.

400 competitive sports events

“DSC encourages international sports stars and investors to take advantage of Dubai’s world-class facilities to open sports academies and host major world championships and training camps for various clubs, national teams and champion athletes, as well as to benefit from investment opportunities in its various fields. All these factors contributed to increasing the sector’s economic contribution and the number of employees in various related companies.”

Dubai saw more than 400 competitive sports events in 2021, including more than 130 international sporting events, which contributed to the growth in sponsorship, marketing, insurance, travel, transportation, hotel room reservations and hospitality spending.

Chaired by Sheikh Mansoor, the third meeting of the DSC’s Board of Directors was attended by Mattar Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of the Council; Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police; and DSC members Hala Yousef Badri, Sami Al Qamzi, Maryam Al Hammadi, Moza Al Marri and Jamal Al Marri. Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Council, and Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of the Council, were also present during the meeting.

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Rory McIlroy playing in the Pro-Am of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Golf tournaments are one of the few key contributing factors for attracting more tourists and investors. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The coverage of major sports events, including the UAE International Cycling Tour, the Dubai International Sports Conference, the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards, and the Confederations Cup for beach soccer and golf tournaments, contributed to attracting more tourists and potential residents and property investors.

More than 1.65 million professionals and amateurs of different ages participated in various annual sporting events, including many participating athletes from outside the country. More than 400 sports academies and over 100 public and private sports clubs in Dubai attracted many training camps for clubs and teams of different nationalities and sports.


Dubai’s advanced infrastructure, the superior quality of life, and the availability of skills in different fields have attracted major companies and e-sports organisers. The city plays host to several international tournaments and is set to host several large international tournaments and events in the future, which is set to further increase the sports sector’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP.

Dubai Sports Strategy 2030

The DSC’s Board of Directors also approved the Dubai Sports Strategy 2030, a new framework representing the future direction of sports in line with the changes witnessed by the sector and the opportunities that contribute to its growth. The strategy outlines the Council’s work methodology, which includes cooperation with various government and private bodies, to implement initiatives and achieve its goals.

The five future drivers developed as part of the strategy to measure and determine the success in achieving the goals are:

• Government indicators, including attaining federal government and happiness targets.

• Societal indicators, including sports awareness and the community’s satisfaction with the quality of services provided in the sports sector.

• Sports indicators, including developing sports talents.

• Economic indicators, including the contribution of sports to Dubai’s GDP and the growth of jobs in the sports sector.

• Global indicators, including global competitiveness indicators through the number of international sports companies operating in Dubai and the number of tourists visiting Dubai to attend sports events.

The aspects considered in the new sports strategy were sports clubs in Dubai, infrastructure for sports facilities, e-sports, sports tourism, and sports technology, among others. The methodology also included identifying the main challenges, as well as identifying the elements of future development and the axes of strategic transformation. The meeting also reviewed plans to develop football stadiums in Dubai and directed the team to work on implementing them according to the approved schedule.