Much more than sport on display

Following on from the Grand Prix, the World Air Games will boost the UAE’s global appeal

A wing-walker prerforms during a World Air Games performance (AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE)
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Following on from the Grand Prix, the World Air Games will boost the UAE’s global appeal

When German driver Nico Rosberg claimed first place in the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, there might have been a temptation to think that the sporting calendar of the UAE had peaked for another year, along with the Formula One season.

While the three days of motorsport certainly captivated the attention of fans here and across the world, the next major event is already lined up: the 2015 World Air Games. This 12-day event, known as the Olympics of aviation, starts in Dubai today and will feature more than 1,200 participants from 56 countries. With spectators converging on Dubai to watch the tournament, it reflects an importance to the UAE's economy that goes beyond its purely sporting merit.

Big international competitions provide a huge boost to the country’s hospitality and related sectors. Everyone who travels to this country as either a spectator or a participant will use our hotels, restaurants and shops. Away from the tournament, they are overwhelmingly likely to visit local attractions and enjoy what the country offers. This will help the entire sector to grow and flourish.

In Abu Dhabi, for example, the entertainment was not restricted solely to the Yas Marina Circuit. Related events were going on right across the city, including concerts provided for free on the Corniche as a counterpoint to the world famous artists at the ­after-race performances on Yas Island. This is in addition to Yas Island’s permanent attractions, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Yas Beach and Yas Mall.

These kind of events are not only good for the economy but they also further raise the profile of the UAE as a world-class sporting and recreational destination. As we remarked yesterday, the improved recognition of Abu Dhabi’s brand since its first Formula One in 2009 is obvious. This can help the country even politically, by giving us more “soft power” in the international arena, showing this is much more than simple entertainment.