Heather Watson in Dubai
Heather Watson in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Heather Watson is among the latest international sporting stars to be infatuated by Dubai. Great Britain’s former women’s No. 1 tennis player now wants to own a home in Dubai, and perhaps rub shoulders with some of her contemporaries who have already shifted base here.

“This place is truly paradise,” Watson told Gulf News after easing into the quarter-finals of the 23rd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge (AHTC) at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa, late on Wednesday.

“Playing in a beautiful setting like this looks so surreal to me. One of the things that struck me was ‘why don’t we buy a place and live here like so many other players who are using Dubai as a second home?” she said.

Over the years more celebrities than ever have decided to call Dubai home. Ranging from footballers and tennis players, to movie stars and singers, Dubai has witnessed a slow, yet sure shift in making people get that unique feel of a second home away from home.

Retired French footballer Nicolas Anelka had a documentary on him filmed entirely in the UAE. Out earlier this year on streaming service, the former Arsenal striker explores the highs and lows of a footballing career that went from Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and then finally in China. He now lives in Dubai with his wife and three children, and was recently, among those honoured by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) for choosing Dubai as home.

Former Aston Villa and Manchester United player Dwight Yorke is also among those preferring Dubai over his native England, while former Real Madrid winger Michel Salgado has very recently shifted base back to Europe after spending more than a decade here.

Arguably the most famous sporting icon who has made Dubai his home is tennis legend Roger Federer. The 39-year-old Swiss ace owns an apartment in Dubai Marina’s Le Reve Tower, within walking distance of the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa.

“One of my friend’s showed me the tower where he [Federer] owns an apartment. That’s quite a motivation for me for sure,” Watson said. “But, other than that, I have been getting a lot of time to move around and explore the place. I simply love it here. I have been to the beach for a swim every day, and we have got time to eat out at some of the incredible restaurants here as well. I feel happy here, and when I feel happy I play well. I am 100 per cent thinking of being a Dubai resident in the future.”