Building bridges

His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, explains why the UAE's sporting ties with China are underpinned by trade and economics

­Q: Last night you announced that the UAE would host the 2016 ATTU Asian Cup. How significant is this signing for Dubai?

A: Dubai is always striving to host the biggest events in the world, and the world is not only in Europe - the world is also in Asia. When you consider table tennis and badminton, for example, China boasts some of the world’s best players.
But this is not just about sport. The links Dubai has with China, for example, are about economics too, and our mission in sport is to also consider that. Here at Dubai Week in China’s Sport Night, for example, there is a top player from tennis as well as a leading sports federation manager. And we are all getting together to talk about how we can help each other and build bridges between China and Dubai. China has a lot of help from Dubai, especially with infrastructure, not only in terms of our stadiums, but in terms of transportation, hotels and facilities too. 

Q: During the Dubai World Superseries Finals, many of the athletes cited the hospitality that they received as a highlight of the tournament.

A: Hospitality is in our nature in Dubai, it’s in our blood. The athletes who compete here are not stuck in the stadiums. They can relax too, and take in the different trips and experiences that are available, for example, to the seaside or the desert – or even skydiving. When the Chinese table tennis players were in Dubai last year they played in the desert and on top of the Burj Al Arab. Who else can provide those kinds of experiences?

Dubai is always striving to host the biggest events in the world, and the world is not only in Europe - the world is also in Asia.

HE Saeed Hareb, Secretary General, Dubai Sports Council

Q: You spoke earlier in the evening about Dubai and China’s shared passion for sport. Tell us more about that.

A: There are tremendous synergies between China and Dubai. We are going to host ATTU next year and we have hosted myriad other large-scale events such as the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. Like China, Dubai always wants to host the biggest events – and don’t forget that China hosted the biggest sports event in the world, the Olympic Games.

Q: As a former footballer who managed the UAE national side, how excited are you about Dubai hosting the Asian Cup in 2019?

A: As chairman of the group organising this in Dubai, it is an event close to my heart. To host the Asian Cup in the UAE and Dubai is very important for us to show how we can organise a tournament for one of the top sports in Asia.