Sporting partnership: Dubai sponsors Chinese table tennis team

In a world first, Dubai has become an official sponsor of China’s national table tennis team

Dubai has become the official sponsor of the Chinese Table Tennis Team, in a deal intended to support and strengthen existing bilateral ties.

The agreement was signed at an event in Beijing yesterday, which was attended by a delegation from Dubai including His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority and Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, and John Ferguson, Chairman of Falcon and Associates, which brokered the deal.

Chinese table tennis stars Wang Hao, Zhang Jike, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia were also present at the ceremony, wearing their new official kit which features Dubai’s name.

Table tennis is an immensely popular sport in China, with over 100 million viewers tuning in to the World Championship final every year. The partnership will guarantee maximum exposure for Dubai – both in China and internationally – as Chinese players dominate global rankings. Last year the national team took part in 34 international table tennis tournaments, many of which were covered by major sport networks including ESPN, Eurosport and Star Sports.

The deal signifies a deepening of the existing mutually beneficial relationship between China and Dubai. His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer said: “The United Arab Emirates and China already have close ties across many sectors including business, arts and culture, and sports. With this in mind, we are pleased to further strengthen this existing cooperation by signing an agreement to sponsor the esteemed Chinese National Table Tennis Team; a sponsorship that will enable us to achieve the various set objectives that we have in common.”

Mr Al Tayer added: “Dubai has also built a strong reputation as a global hub and destination for high-profile, high-impact international sporting events which, in recent years, have included the Table Tennis World Cup Team Championships in 2010, and the Table Tennis Grand Prix in 2011. China’s participation in, and success at these events served as a precursor to this new partnership, one which we hope will evolve and grow in the future.”

China is Dubai’s second biggest trading partner and the city is already home to 200,000 Chinese expatriates, with 200,000 tourists visiting in 2011 and numbers set to boom in the coming decade.

John Ferguson, Chairman of Falcon and Associates, said: “Dubai’s relationship with China is important today and is set to become even more important in the future. China is a major trading partner, and there are increasing social and cultural exchanges. Supporting table tennis, which has played an important role in the modern history of China, demonstrates the importance Dubai places on its relationship with China.”

The landmark agreement marks the first time that the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) has partnered with an international sponsor.

Liu Fengyan, the Vice Chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association said: “The partnership with Dubai is different from any other we’ve had before. Dubai is a world-renowned centre for tourism, with a deep cultural heritage. Table tennis will be an excellent ambassador to extend and build friendships. The cooperation with Dubai is beyond sport itself; it is as much about our communication and cultural dialogue.”