Dubai: The role of Dubai Police in making the recently concluded T20 World Cup and the Indian Premier League (IPL) successful events with 70-80% spectators in attendance have come in for praise from all quarters, with the International Cricket Council (ICC) leading the applause. The person who played a key role in rallying around his forces is Major General Abdullah Ali Al Ghaithi, Director of the General Department of Protective Security & Emergency of Dubai Police and Chairman of Dubai’s Events Security Committee.
A day after the World T20 final ended last Sunday, Al Ghaithi set up his base at the Dubai Airshow for the whole of last week - keeping a close watch on the spectacular event. ‘‘Dubai was open from the beginning and we had an exceptionally busy times with so many big events happening together - be it Expo, Airshow or cricket. This was a challenge on now to keep people happy - we loved it and worked hard to make it a success,’’ he said.
Looking back at the challenges of playing their part in the World Cup, which saw the Dubai International Stadium hosting 13 matches including one semi-final and final, Al Ghaithi told Gulf News during an exclusive interview that they were aware that cricket is a passion among two to three nationalities and kept it in mind in planning the security arrangements.
‘‘The large expat population of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan here like their cricket - hence we wanted to ensure that they should be happy in coming for the matches and while leaving the stadium. We used technology which is our strength with drone camera, closed circuit TVs scanning the ground, approach to the stadium and used a human approach to ensure that the spectators did not slip up on the safety protocols after Cvoid-19,’’ Al Ghaithi said.
Asked if two of the highly billed Super-12 games, India versus Pakistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan, posed any extra challenges, a candid Al Ghaithi recalled: ‘‘Too many people came for one of the matches, with some of them not carrying tickets. During Covid times, we couldn’t open up the entire stadium but neither you could stop them with force as some families also came. We coordinated with Dubai Sports City to allow access to some and spoke to lot of them to manage the situation.’’
The planning began for Dubai Police at least a month before the IPL. ‘‘We started our planning with all the stakeholders including ourselves, Ambulance services, CID to discuss the blueprint. We created scenarios to test our response time and conducted two to three mock drill sessions on how to vacate the stadium, if fight breaks out between fans etc,’’ the official said.
The police force also played their part in ensuring that Covid protocols were being adhered to at the stadium - but with a difference. ‘‘We didn’t want to take the path of fining people if they were found without masks or not wearing them properly - rather we wanted to make them aware by flashing messages on the giant scoreboard and also convincing people,’’ he said.
Al Ghaithi felt that the best away, according to his experience in handling public events, be it the Expo, Airshow or cricket - is to be hands-on at the site. ‘‘See, we are everywhere. sitting in operation or standing with people and security at the gate help your people. The job of securing an event like Expo is different which is huge and almost like a city. We engage volunteers are also helping - the idea is to provide a balance of technology and human element.’’
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dubai Police for their dedication and contribution to the successful delivery of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, especially as it came immediately after the Indian Premier League,” wrote Greg Barclay, the ICC chairman, wrote in a letter to Dubai Police earlier this week.
He added: “During the recently concluded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 tournament, we had tens of thousands of spectators at the stadium, 350 million people watched the matches on television and we had over 5 billion views online. You [Dubai Police] have certainly helped us achieve our objective of delivering a safe, memorable and outstanding event.”