Sports Industry and Sporting Events in the UAE

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The United Arab Emirates has excelled not only in economics and technological development but also in sports. The sports industry and events in the UAE attract the attention of the global community, with Dubai long recognized as the largest sports hub in the Middle East and North Africa.

National Sports Strategy of the UAE

In 2023, the Prime Minister of the UAE approved the National Sports Development Strategy. Among the main goals of this initiative are the popularization of mass sports, which involves engaging the population in leading an active lifestyle, and investment in the industry's development. The strategy includes several initiatives:

  • Development of talented athletes
  • Support for sports schools and other institutions
  • Updating the methodology of sports education
  • Improvement of the legal framework regulating the sector

The strategy is planned to be implemented by 2031. This roadmap involves several sequential stages, aiming to increase the authority of Emirati sports both domestically and internationally. It also aims to achieve an economic effect by increasing the contribution of sports to GDP to 0.5% by 2031.

Popularization of an Active Lifestyle

Strategic goals include encouraging the population to be more active and improving the overall level of physical fitness. An informational campaign has already been launched, although mass sports are already well developed in the UAE, especially in Dubai. For example, on the waterfront in the morning and evening, one can encounter people jogging or walking, the number of football fields is roughly equivalent to the number of mosques, and the development of new residential complexes includes not only sports grounds but also well-equipped gyms.

Formation of the Sports Committee

Along with the approval of the strategy, the establishment of the High Achievement Sports Committee was announced. The department is responsible for developing talents, providing support to athletes, and prioritizing federations. Committee staff have already selected 22 athletes to represent the UAE at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris across 8 sports. It is planned that by 2031, the UAE will increase the number of athletes qualified to participate in the Olympic Games to 30 or more.

The Committee is also responsible for preparing for the Paralympic Games (also to be held in Paris in 2024). Athletes representing the UAE in equestrian sports and Paralympic shooting have already qualified. Qualifying competitions are underway for most sports, along with training for several more talented athletes.

Development of Sports Law

Currently, the UAE has a Sports Arbitration Court that resolves sports-related disputes, but the legislative framework is not adequately developed. Therefore, one of the key tasks is to improve the legal framework for the sports industry. The strategy envisages addressing issues such as international relations in sports, sports professionalism, and sports for people with disabilities.

Priority Sports

The goal of the UAE is to train professional athletes capable of achieving regional, continental, and international awards. However, not all sports in the UAE are equally developed. Therefore, in accordance with the adopted strategy and after consultations with experts, priority directions have been selected: fencing, shooting, athletics, and judo. When choosing, the qualifications of athletes from the UAE, the potential of each sport for participation in the Olympic Games, and statistical data were taken into account.

Major Events in the UAE

Although Dubai did not succeed in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, many equally impressive competitions take place in this and other emirates. Major events in the UAE include:

  • Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
  • Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
  • World Rugby Sevens Series
  • Al Gaffal Long Distance Race
  • Dubai World Cup

These events attract a significant number of participants and spectators and contribute to the overall development and promotion of sports in the UAE.

How to Open a Sports Facility in the UAE

The infrastructure in the UAE is already well-developed, but there are still untapped sports and sports-related niches, presenting an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs. For example, there is a demand for organizing business events related to sports and the corresponding business, creating sports schools for children, and businesses manufacturing specialized clothing, among others.

Gym or Fitness Center

To open a gym, fitness center, or yoga studio in Dubai, you need approval from the Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Committee, the Youth and Sports Affairs Department, and the Ministry of Economy and Tourism. To submit applications, you need to have a certified lease agreement for the premises. The costs of opening such a business will range from 10,000 to 30,000 dirhams, depending on the chosen legal structure. Licensing fees (license, registration certificate, etc.) are not included in this amount.

Sports Events

In Dubai, there are numerous sports facilities that can be used for hosting events. Businesses have the opportunity to participate in planning and managing large-scale sports tournaments and competitions.

Like any other event agency, the company must obtain a license to organize events, rent an office, open a corporate bank account, and arrange visas for employees.

Specialists in a sports event agency must understand the specifics of sports legislation in the UAE and have relevant experience. Confirmation of the qualifications and experience of employees is necessary to obtain a license.

Manufacturing Sports Goods

Manufacturing sports equipment and gear, athletic wear, and related goods in the UAE is a potentially profitable niche. The success of the business model depends on what exactly you plan to produce and how you intend to market it.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to seek reliable manufacturers in China, work with them directly, and import goods to the UAE for further distribution (in which case a trade license, understanding of export and import customs procedures will be required). This is cheaper than establishing manufacturing in the UAE, where there are tax incentives, necessary infrastructure, and established logistics, but expensive skilled labor.

Moreover, by establishing production in Dubai, you gain access to the local market (Middle East and North Africa), necessary business infrastructure, extensive logistical opportunities, and relatively inexpensive labor if you employ workers from India, Pakistan, the Philippines. In this case, it is convenient to organize production processes between countries to take advantage of tax incentives and the possibility of reducing customs duties.

In addition to optimizing production processes, goods manufactured in the UAE receive the "Made in UAE" label, which positively affects sales opportunities.

If you want to implement a business idea, seek assistance from The Level Consulting. We provide support at all stages of company registration and business operations. Our experts understand the specifics of tax accounting in the UAE, can suggest a suitable free zone for your company's activities, help quickly obtain visas, and open a bank account. Contact us for a consultation to learn more details.

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