Cricket and sport in general in the UAE have come a long way from a smashing start in the deserts of Sharjah back in the eighties to the ongoing T20 World Cup. The game has seen a (miniature) evolution since then, and the fans (and game) are richer from the experience.

Indeed, cricket has become shorter, but its influence has only grown in the UAE. The game is more potent and dynamic with the advent of the latest format that’s packing in more crowds at stadiums even during the pandemic.

Tickets for matches have been sold out, including for the marquee game between India and Pakistan on October 24. Such a development was unthinkable just last year. But the impressive campaign against the coronavirus pandemic has elevated the country to cult status as a sporting destination.

And here, it wouldn’t be wrong to call the UAE the most sporting nation on earth. In 2020, when the pandemic was raging, the UAE took the risk to stage the Indian Premier League and the F1 race in Abu Dhabi without fans.

When the IPL was suspended earlier this year in India, the UAE was the natural choice for the completion of the event, and it did so in fitting fashion with Chennai Super Kings taking home the trophy. For many countries, the UAE has become the home turf for sporting action. Why? Because sport here is unalloyed and is not a victim of politics, conflicts, personalities and their tantrums.

The UAE offers sport in its true spirit; there’s entertainment and passion thrown in. What more could the average fan want? The country has over the years built state-of-the art stadiums and provides the best facilities for both spectators and the stars.

It’s easy to travel to the UAE as it connects the East and the West like no other nation in the world. The aviation sector is booming, so is trade, and there’s business to be done on the go. The hospitality sector is world-class; it’s a celebrity haunt while also offering something for the budget conscious traveller and resident.

The country remained an attractive destination and a beehive of activity even during the pandemic. Now that the worst has passed, sports is back with renewed vigour in the country. There are scores to settle — on the cricket pitch as the action spreads to Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Last year’s successful IPL cricket in a bubble has given the country confidence to stage this spectacle with packed crowds in stadiums. Nothing like a game of cricket has hit the coronavirus for a six.

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