Dan Jones, Lead Partner of the Sports Business Group, Deloitte UK, explains why Dubai is such a successful hub for a multitude of sports
A new study, launched by Deloitte at the Host Cities 2015 summit in Dubai, is the first to assess the economic impact of sport in the emirate.
Head of Sports Business Group at Deloitte, Dan Jones, discusses the reasons for Dubai’s continued growth as a central point for so many different sports, and how strategic outbound investment has helped establish the emirate’s standing on the world stage.
Vision: What do you think makes Dubai such a good sporting hub?
Dan Jones: Dubai’s geographic location is fantastic; it’s a natural and incredibly accessible connecting point at the centre of the world. The fantastic climate makes it great for warm-weather training during Europe’s off-season. And its phenomenal facilities – hotels, conference venues and so on – mean that not only from a participation side, but also from a management side, it’s a great meeting place for people to come together and be hosted.
V: To what extent is the cosmopolitan ‘melting pot’ of nationalities a key factor in Dubai’s growth in sports?
DJ: It’s incredibly important. When you have 200 nationalities present in a city of this size, what’s the common language, what connects them, brings them together? Sport is fantastic in this respect - it lets people watch together, play together. People are very used to dealing with different cultures and welcoming people from around the world and making people feel at home. Dubai is fantastically well positioned in that way; people can arrive here and feel at home very quickly.
V: The European and PGA tours are exploring new ways to make golf tournaments more exciting and engaging for audiences. How can Dubai assist with this, given how integral it has made itself with the sport?
DJ: Golf has a very traditional reputation. Mobile phones were once banned due to the distractions they cause – but now we’re seeing courses offering WiFi so that spectators can actually track the wider game, not just the pair or the three they’re following. Otherwise, the coverage available on TV is better than what they could see out on a course. There should be no substitute for being there live. Dubai, being youthful and vibrant yet respectful of traditions, can help to push those innovations forward.
V: Which observations from the report would you say are the most surprising?
DJ: Probably the most surprising was the longevity of some of the sporting events. The Rugby Sevens has taken place since 1970 – just one year before the UAE was established in 1971. Also, the scale of the industry in terms of employment; 14,500 full-time equivalent employees, which is a very comparable employed population to what we have in the UK. I guess that would surprise some people - they see Dubai as very new to sport, but actually a solid infrastructure already exists.
V: The report states that sport is “well ingrained” into Dubai’s economy, yet it only accounts for around 0.8 per cent of Dubai’s GDP. Do you see that changing?
You could look at sport and say “well it’s only 1 per cent of the economy” or “it’s less than 1 per cent of employment - why’s it so important?” but the great thing about sport is that it captures people’s imaginations, it connects people and it gets attention way beyond anything else in that other 99%. Everybody in the world knows what Manchester United is, for example; wherever I go in the world, as soon as I say where I’m from, people ask “United or City”? Yet there are much bigger companies in the North West of England that no one outside that area has ever heard of. Sport has the power to completely transcend its economic scale. That’s what makes it so important.
To download the 'Report of Economic Impact of Sports in Dubai' in full, please click here