Don’t miss out out on playing your favourite sport this summer. If you’re looking for a way to spend your spare time that doesn’t involve eating, drinking or shopping, the return of Dubai Sports World means you won’t have to rely on DVD box sets to get you through the season.
The sports event opened its doors on Friday June 8 at Dubai World Trade Centre, revealing even more indoor pitches and multi-purpose courts than last year. It will run for 12 weeks until Friday August 31, taking Ramadan in its stride by adjusting its opening hours so those who are fasting don’t miss out, and making sure iftar is readily available.
‘We’ve structured the daytime elements and timing a little more effectively this year,’ says Raymond Tinston, the British head of Dubai Sports World. He explains that throughout the week the doors will open at 9am for corporate bookings and academy programmes, which will include those run by IFA (football), Max Talent (cricket), MPAC (basketball), Tennis 360, and Original Fitness Co, which will run personal and group training sessions as well as educational workshops for kids. Though youngsters and corporate bookings will be targeted during the day, evenings will see a series of leagues hosted by the academies and Duplays, though courts and pitches are also open to everyone to book – whether you’re looking for somewhere to play a few rounds of tennis with a friend after work, or want to block book a basketball court over summer to put on your own league.
Sports facilities available include a full-size football, rugby and Aussie Rules pitch that can be divided into ten smaller pitches for five-a-side matches or training. There’s also a beach football pitch, six multi-sport courts for basketball, futsal, cricket, volleyball and tennis, 12 table tennis tables, six billiards tables and six foosball tables. But Raymond warns that slots are filling up fast. ‘With our marketing campaign going into full swing, people need to get a move-on if they want to plan a series of activities across the summer,’ he says. ‘You can dip in and out, there’s no problem with that at all, but it is all based on availability.’
As well as eliminating the leisure area that was last year taken up by Magic Planet, and adding more court and pitch space, this year has also seen the introduction of a running track, and the new summer sports majlis will be showing Euro 2012 matches on the big screen until the finals, as well as enabling people to unwind with food and shisha. But it’s the introduction of ladies’ day that Raymond is most excited about. ‘We’ve set aside Saturdays from 8am to 3pm as ladies’ day. It doesn’t preclude women from playing sports any other time, but the idea of this day is to encourage more women to get into sports. All housekeeping and security staff will be women, and no men will be allowed in at any time during the day.’
Asked about the most affordable options for anyone looking to keep fit or try a new sport during the event, Raymond suggests football sessions will cost the least. ‘IFA runs a series of structured programmes, and the cost varies from Dhs50 for a one-hour session to Dhs200 per week,’ he says. ‘If you want to book a court for your sports team to play on, the cheapest is a basketball court, which will cost Dhs200 per hour.’
The number of players throughout the 12-week period is widely expected to exceed that of last year’s 100,000, and that’s not including spectators for the popular indoor football championship and two-week cricket tournament.
We’d imagine Raymond has a point when he says interested parties should ‘get a move on’ with their bookings. The fact that summer’s most curious and omnipresent mascot, Modhesh, will be taking over the rest of DWTC with his Modhesh World leisure and play area for kids (which typically sees anywhere between 3,500 and 10,000 visitors a day) will also have huge implications for footfall at Dubai Sports World. In other words, every square inch of DWTC is likely to be busier than the Emirates ID centres were last month. So if the prospect of box sets, burgers and an ever-expanding backside don’t appeal to you, you’d better get booking.
Open daily 8am-midnight (8am-2am during Ramadan). Until August 31. Dubai World Trade Centre, www.dubaisportsworld.ae (04 306 4000).