Dubai is Middle East's best city for sport

Columnist Tom Bushell is hearing nothing but praise for the city's sporting facilities

Le Clos: giving Dubai some good PR
Le Clos: giving Dubai some good PR
Van der Burgh: a fan of Karama
Van der Burgh: a fan of Karama

Dubai is ranked the best city for sport in the Middle East at Africa, and 14th in the global rankings, according to Sportbusiness Group’s Ultimate Sports Cities Awards 2012. If you think about it, we do offer everything from surfing and horse racing to Test cricket and world-class golf.

Not only do we host the best sporting events, but we have some of the best facilities too. That’s not me saying it: the Olympic medal-winning swimmers who’ve visited the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex (that big blue building on Dubai Bypass Road) have been quick to praise the amenities. Recently it has hosted the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup 2012, and the first International Water Polo and Synchronised Swimming Championships.

I spoke to South African swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos during that time, and he told me the swimming facilities in Dubai are second to none. Here is a man who loves Dubai – it’s where he ‘announced himself on the world stage’. And it’s not just him giving Dubai some love: fellow countryman Cameron van der Burgh (another Olympic gold medalist) also agrees that our city offers by far ‘the best complex in the world’. Yet he may have been referring to Karama: he was keen to tell me he’d picked up goodies for friends during his trip. Even after winning his gold medal in Dubai at the Swimming World Cup, he chucked it
into the crowd. Nice gesture. I wouldn’t be surprised if on his trip to Karama, someone tried to sell it back to him.

Beach soccer may well lead you to think of Rio, but FIFA has announced Dubai as the new home of the sport. Having hosted the Beach Soccer World Cup in 2009, this year marks the return of the Inter-Continental Cup, staged at Festival City at the end of October. The UAE team have been drawn against world champions Russia, while European champions Switzerland are in the same group as 2009 World Cup winners Brazil. Well worth a watch.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.

And another thing…

This season, Dubai is hosting several ‘biathles’ – similar to a mini triathlon, but without the cycling. Most feature a run of about 1km, followed by a 200m swim, then another short run. Wouldn’t it be tempting to claim you’ve done a full triathlon? Sadly, though, it’s the equivalent of doing the fun run compared to the marathon. Great for beginners, though.

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