Dubai: Cricket fans in the UAE are getting ready for the upcoming India versus Pakistan Asia Cup match, which will be taking place in Dubai this weekend. The excitement for the August 28 match is so high that when the first batch of tickets went up on sale on August 15, they were sold out within just three hours (link to our story). The following batches of tickets followed suit.
But, Mr Cricket UAE, Anis Sajan, who is the vice-chairman of Danube Group, was determined. Like last year (during the T20 World Cup), he wanted to share his passion for cricket with his blue-collar staff again this time, by gifting them free tickets to the India versus Pakistan match.
Tickets were selling out fast, but he didn’t lose heart. On the three days that the tickets went up on sale, a team of 10 of his staff members would log in, in an attempt to purchase as many tickets as possible.
“We were on our computers past midnight on August 14, 15 and 17,” said one of his staff members. “They were allowing four tickets per person so we bought them in packages. A lot of effort went in….”
Many phone calls later, the team was successful in buying 270 tickets.
Speaking to Gulf News, Anis Sajan said: “India and Pakistan matches are a rarity, we get to see the two teams play with each other only during the Asia Cup or the World Cup tournament. We are lucky that the Asia Cup was moved to the UAE this time.
“It’s a golden opportunity for the cricket fans, they get to see their heroes. For blue-collar workers, it’s not easy to spend money on the India-Pakistan match tickets worth Dh250, and additional fares for transportation to the stadium. And, I wanted them to live out their passion for cricket with me.
“I have been lucky to be able to live out my passion for the game and witness cricket matches being played in Melbourne, Auckland and other cities around the world. I wanted my staff to feel the same excitement. They are the backbone of my company. After all, my company is as good as them. So, I wanted to give them a small share of my happiness. It’s like a dream come true for them, when they get to watch their favourite cricketers, like Virat Kohli or Asif Ali, live in action. I hope my small gesture will bring a smile on their faces and make them feel like they are taken care of.
“When we gave them the tickets, they were over the moon,” he added.
Other than tickets, he is providing transportation to them to get to the stadium, as well as snacks to enjoy during the match. In addition to that, the staff will also receive their favourite fan jerseys as well as signature Mr Cricket UAE jackets and caps.
In addition to the India-Pakistan match, the cricket enthusiast will also be distributing tickets for the important Super Four matches (matches between the four top-performing teams in the preliminary league).
While the company has nearly 1,000 blue-collar workers, Sajan was able to gift tickets to 270 people, whose names were picked during a raffle draw. But, he has a plan in place for the others as well. “We will be screening the matches at five of our warehouses across the UAE and there will be celebrations, music, and DJs (Disc Jockeys).”
The Asia Cup, which begins on August 27, will see Asia's top cricket teams competing against each other at the Dubai Stadium.
Regarding his own plans for watching the India-Pakistan game, Sajan said that he was more than happy to watch it at home, where he has arranged a screening with a group of his friends, who are a mix of UAE expatriates from India and Pakistan. "The UAE is a country where people of all nationalities come together to celebrate such momentous occasions,” said the Indian businessman, based in Dubai.
“As much as I enjoy Bollywood films, I also enjoy watching Pakistani dramas, and my Pakistani friends enjoy watching Bollywood films. Our office also has a diverse mix of nationalities, particularly from India and Pakistan, and they all work and enjoy together," he added.