By Shane McGinley
IOC member says emirate is aiming to become 'a real partner in the world of sports'.
Dubai has proven itself on the international sporting stage and has a long-term goal to become “a solid foothold for sports in the world,” Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a member of the International Olympic Committee, has said.
“We have proved ourselves and it is now about becoming an equal partner and continuing with the correct learning curve to be a real partner in the world of sports,” Princess Haya, who is the wife of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, told the BBC.
“It is not with a short-term vision to outshine a city, it really is with a long-term vision to make this a solid foothold for sports in the world [and] a place that is taken seriously because it is represented by its own people in the sporting arenas of the world,” she added.
Her comments come shortly after a leading sporting official said that, while Dubai has not been ruled out as a potential host of the 2020 Olympics Games, it has a lot of work to do before it will have enough experience to host such as event.
“You can have the facilities but you do need in the region experience in organising world championships,” Andrew Ryan from the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations told 7DAYS newspaper.
Ryan and Princess Haya both attended the launch of the SportAccord Convention, which will be a gathering of 1,500 representatives from the sporting world, including delegates from more than 100 international sports federations and organisations.
The SportAccord Convention will be held at the Atlantis resort from April 25-30.
Among the confirmed speakers at the convention include HRH Princess Haya, Sheikh Ahmed Al Fahad Al Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, Romy Gai, CEO of the UAE Football League, Bernard Lapasset, Chairman of the International Rugby Board, and Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Dubai and the UAE has focused heavily on hosting major international sports events, but very little seems to be done to encourage local development of sports. I've been to watch football matches locally a few times, and it's disappointing how few people attend - the stadiums are almost empty for most games. If the country wants to step up a level in its sports profile, it needs to develop some home-grown sports stars, and encourage more local youngsters into sport. It would have a huge health benefit and give people something more constructive and fun to do than wandering around malls.