The UAE has a population of 4.5 million of which 85 percent are expatriates. With taxfree income and one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, the country’s leisure retail outlets will increase dramatically. Inbound tourism, which is actively supported by the Government and the move towards a five-day week by the Government, would also increase the time spent by both locals and expatriates on leisure and sporting activities. Moreover the extensive involvement of the Ministry of Youth & Sports in every conceivable sport and leisure activity would lead to an increase in activity in this sector of industry.
The Middle East sporting goods & stadium equipment market alone is today worth US$2billion, with a share of 2.5% of the global market. Its incremental growth rate of 23% each year has been attracting a number of importers to the region. The Middle East has been billed as one of the world’s fastest growing regions for travel and tourism. Dubai alone has forecasted a target of 15 million visitors by 2010, making the Middle East a prime destination for the Sports, Fitness/Health and Leisure Industry.
Today, both government and private companies have begun putting infrastructure in place to turn UAE into a viable travel destination by building and operating theme parks, indoor family entertainment centers, edutainment centers, hotels, etc. The Ski dome in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai attracts the local population and also tourists from across the globe.
The announcement of Warner Brothers to expand its entertainment empire to Abu Dhabi, by opening a theme park in the wealthy Gulf emirate aims to make it an international center for art and culture. A hotel, several multiplex cinemas and a joint film and computer game development fund will also be created under the deal struck between Warner Brothers, the Abu Dhabi Media Company and real estate developers Aldar. Work on the theme park and hotel is expected to begin in 2009, while the cinemas are due to open in the first quarter of 2010.
US-based Universal Studios will operate Universal City situated at Dubailand. With a theme park based on scenes from famous movies such as Jurassic Park and King Kong, the entire Universal City project will cost over $2 billion and cover an area of more than 20 million square feet. It will include more than 4,000 hotel rooms and 100 restaurants and retail stores. Completion is scheduled for 2010.
DreamWorks is an innovative leader in the leisure and entertainment industries. DreamWorks Animation SKG has signed an AED 1.8 billion (500million US Dollars) agreement with Dubailand to develop its first unique theme park. The theme park will be developed over a 5 million sq ft area in Dubailand and will open by 2012.
The annual Dubai Desert Classic Tournament held at the state-of-the-art Emirates Golf Club, featuring the world’s top professional golfers, has placed UAE on the Golf world map, turning Dubai into a favorite golfing destination for professionals and amateurs alike. The announcement by Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia to design and develop their own golf courses, the completed golf course designed by Ernie Els and the golf courses designed by Greg Norman and Vijay Singh, which are underway, will add impetus to the golf industry.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Open attracts the world’s top ranking male and female tennis players, as part of the ATP tour. This event has given the UAE recognition in professional tennis circles. The Dubai World Cup, termed as the world’s richest horse racing event, has brought the country coveted Group One status. The event is now on par with the world’s best horse racing events. Featuring 16 of the Best Sevens nations in the world, the Dubai Rugby Sevens has grown into a magical sporting event that attracts fans from around the globe. Sponsored by the Emirates Airlines, this is an event held annually.
The shallow waters of the Gulf provide the ideal environment for water sports. As a result the most sophisticated forms of Powerboat racing as well as Snorkeling and Scuba diving can be enjoyed here.
Motor sports are gaining popularity; the racing and rally events held in the Emirates are the UAE International Rally and the Dubai International Rally. Scores of other sports - from Football, Cricket, Chess, Rugby, Shooting, Polo, Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton to Pigeon Racing, Ice Skating, Formula One Indoor, Go-Carting, Sailing, Sand surfing, Water sports and Motor sports enjoy increasing popularity and participation leading to increase in demand for Sporting Equipment.
The Middle East will gain a stronger foothold in the international leisure and entertainment market with real estate projects worth an estimated US$80 billion in the next ten years.
A number of luxury hotels are planned in the country. All hotels are equipped with spas, Jacuzzi and swimming pools. With UAE being promoted as an ideal tourist destination, the demand for these items will continue to rise and US firms can look at opportunities in this segment of market. Freehold property sold in the country comes equipped with a fitness center to attract prospective buyers. This could lead to the increase in demand for these products and new franchises in the country.
Construction for the Academies area at Dubai Sports City, which includes the Manchester United Soccer Schools facility and the ICC Global Cricket Academy facilities along with other Academies area components, has begun. The Academies area, which is located in Dubai Sports City, will also include the Field Hockey stadium, WorldHockey Academy, a rugby training facility, a 2,500 sq meter gymnasium, an Olympic length swimming pool, as well as the Bradenton Preparatory Academy. It will also house two hotels accommodating up to 524 people.
Construction of the Academies area and the Bradenton Preparatory Academy are scheduled for completion in April 2008. Dubai is interested and will be bidding to become the destination for the 17th Asian Games to be held in 2014 and the World Olympic Games in 2020.