With just a few weeks to go until the first ever Middle East country hosts the world’s biggest sporting event – the 2022 FIFA World Cup – it’s clear to anyone working in Dubai that there’s just as much at stake for us here in the emirate, as there is for Qatar.
Ever since our Gulf neighbour was picked to host this sporting mega-event, companies in Dubai have understood the opportunity suddenly being presented. The marketing value of an audience of around 5 billion looking in your direction for a month is incredible – so you’d better make the most of it.
The truth is, with little or no investment in the tournament itself, Dubai is now ideally positioned to capitalise in a big way – especially if the expected number of international supporters opt to stay here instead of Qatar between matches.
Hotels and holiday rentals certainly bear this out – bookings are through the roof in Dubai.
Certainly, in our own short term rentals division we’ve seen a surge in demand in recent months – along with strong interest from buyers looking to invest and then rent out their property during the tournament.
It’s also telling that there will be almost fifty daily flights running from Dubai to Doha during the World Cup. There is a general sense that this whole event could be even more lucrative than expected once it gets going and excitement builds.
That’s not to say Qatar isn’t completely invested – indeed, this is the costliest World Cup to date with an estimated US $220 billion spent on infrastructure, nearly ten times more than the next most expensive – Brazil at $13.5 billion. This is partly because Qatar had to build seven brand new stadiums from scratch.
But the reality is Qatar is tiny, so of the more than one million soccer fans heading its way many will find a base elsewhere in the region and just take match day flights – and at just an hour’s hop over, why wouldn’t you choose Dubai? As well as being convenient, it’s an incredible destination for shopping, dining, beaches, culture – you name it.
The other part of this equation is that there will be hordes of people who come to Dubai simply to enjoy being close to the action – especially if they can’t get tickets to watch their country play live.
Ever ready to take advantage of an opportunity, Dubai is installing huge World Cup ‘fanzones’ and there will be pop-ups across the city’s favourite sports clubs and bars.
All this positive sentiment can be a powerful market mover – as the Expo proved only too well. Right now, new Dubai real estate projects are being snapped up at lightning speed – and as we get closer to kick off, I expect we’ll see a further surge in market demand.
Big sports events generate their own unique buzz and are serious money spinners – that’s why nations clamour to host them.
Last year, the UAE became the centre of world cricket for two and a half months. First, the Indian Premier League was played to its conclusion across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Then the T20 World Cup started at the same venues, followed swiftly by the start of the Abu Dhabi T10.
In fact, the region as a whole is becoming a sporting hot spot – for example, boxing is now huge in Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom regularly hosts big name bouts.
So, let’s all hope Qatar has a fantastic event and cheer it on from the side lines.
Yes, it would be nice if this glittering football showcase was being held in our own backyard, but their success will surely translate into our own future hosting success – well beyond this 2022 competition.