Nasser Aman Al Rahma of Dubai Sports Council, Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, general secretary of Dubai Sports Council, and Hamed Bin Mijren, executive director, business tourism, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing at a press conference to announce the new map of Dubai’s sports venues. An online version of the map is also in the pipeline. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/ Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai Sports Council (DSC) has launched a map of sporting venues in the emirate aimed at promoting an year-round fitness culture among residents and highlighting options they can make use of to stay active during the summer.

The first of its kind in the UAE, the Sports Destinations Map lists around 100 venues with GPS coordinates, contact information and Dubai Metro connections to cater to a wide range of physical activity interests from jogging to cycling and diving.

The initiative is spearheaded by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and President of the DSC. The DSC seeks to raise awareness on the importance of physical activity, specifically sport, and to promote an active lifestyle among the general public.

Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, general secretary of the DSC, said that residents have little excuse not to be active given that there are more than 500 public and privates sporting facilities in Dubai, of which the major ones are represented on the map.

Speaking to Gulf News, Al Sharif said there are both indoor and outdoor sports facilities available across the emirate, and residents can choose their preferred activity. When these options were fully utilised, physical activity would become a habit regardless of the weather, he stressed.

The council has conducted several studies over the past four years with health authorities to ascertain the percentage of the UAE population involved in fitness-related activities, and to find solutions to close the gap. The map will play an integral role in this effort, Dr Al Sharif said.

He explained that residents with specific interests like jogging or cycling could easily find a venue. “The map will encourage more people to take up some form of physical activity whether it is walking or a specialised sport,” he said.

He said that the DSC is looking into measures to improve the percentage of people who lead an active lifestyle. “Only 36 per cent of the population is involved in physical activity of some nature, according to last year’s study. We hope that by 2015 we reach 45 per cent.”

The DSC, through its fitness awareness programmes and projects with Dubai Municipality and Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), is also lining up new facilities. “Later this year, we plan to open a new cycling track. In the future, we will also conduct a survey to find out what facilities and services residents need,” Dr Al Sharif said.

Gulf News also spoke to Nasser Aman Al Rahma, director of cultures and social activities affairs, DSC, who said that the Sports Destinations Map targets tourists who need fitness options.

He explained that the special feature of the map is its categorisation. “People looking for venues according to their sporting interests like golf, shooting, camel racing, etc, can now find these easily.”

He added that the map will be regularly updated and an electronic version launched in the coming months.

The maps will be available in print at petrol stations and leading bookstores.