Dubai-China: a sporting union

As Dubai extends its sponsorship of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team, Vision explores the ongoing success of the partnership in boosting the sport’s popularity across the UAE, while forging closer Sino-Dubai ties

Dubai’s sponsorship of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team has been hailed by both sides as an incredible success – so much so that the deal has just been extended by a further three years.

Indeed, the impact of the agreement on the table tennis scene in Dubai has been immeasurable. Over the past year, Dubai has used the momentum of the sponsorship agreement to develop interest for the sport across the UAE, organising events with the single mission of making the sport accessible to as many people as possible.

We have further connected the people of China and Dubai, promoting a deeper, mutual understanding while also supporting the growth of table tennis in the Middle East

Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council
 

First announced in January 2013, the initial objectives of the partnership were a strengthening of social, cultural and commercial ties between Dubai and China, as well as a promotion of further growth opportunities. Over the course of the contract, these ties were most visibly cemented during the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Grand Finals, held in Dubai this January.

During the championship, the Chinese team capitalised on the opportunity to introduce the sport to new audiences, and were showcased playing matches at iconic locations across Dubai. Most famously, the players joined a growing list of sporting luminaries – including the likes of Roger Federer and Rory McIlroy – in exhibiting their prowess on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab.

Dubai-China: a sporting union
The stars with UAE player Majd Albalooshi (centre) at the press conference in Beijing where Dubai renewed its commitment to China and its national sport
 

Meanwhile, community initiative Ping Pong Dubai was launched in May 2013 to encourage greater levels of participation in table tennis across the UAE. The growing momentum behind the sport was brought into the spotlight in June at Dubai Sports World – the largest indoor summer sports event in the Middle East – when thousands of participants flocked to play table tennis on one of 12 free-to-use tables. The next day, more than 400 players participated in two open tournaments.

Since then, the Ping Pong Dubai community programme has seen tables installed in public parks across Dubai.

The renewed agreement, signed today (23 April) in Beijing and facilitated by Falcon and Associates, will see continued support for the Chinese team, with Dubai’s name appearing on the players’ official tracksuits for the first time alongside already-branded shirts, signage and promotional materials.

This highly visible promotion of the “Dubai” brand stands to benefit both sides. As in 2013, it will open up a wider international fan base for the Chinese team, while also providing a vast promotional base for the emirate.

Commenting on the renewed signing, Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, said: “With this sponsorship, thanks to sport’s unique ability to cut across national boundaries, we have further connected the people of China and Dubai, promoting a deeper, mutual understanding while also supporting the growth of table tennis in the Middle East, launching a grassroots initiative to inspire greater levels of participation across Dubai.”