Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai Sports Council announced the 7th edition of Dubai Sports World, which returns from June 1 with an invigorating 13-week calendar of activities for sports enthusiasts.
Since its inaugural edition in 2011, Dubai Sports World has experienced tremendous year-on-year growth and is expected to cross the one million visitors milestone this year.
The strategic partnership between Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai Sports Council has created a strong grassroots culture to nurture young talent within the community and host headline sporting events that reiterate Dubai’s status as a leading sports tourism destination.
His Excellency Saeed Mohamed Hareb, General Secretary, Dubai Sports Council, said: “Each year, we are delighted with the exponential growth and success of Dubai Sports World at Dubai World Trade Centre, as it attracts more visitors, who are encouraged to follow a healthy, fit and happy lifestyle.”
Appearances and visits by more than 50 local and international sport heroes including football sensations Diego Maradona, Michel Salgado and Frederic Kanoute, women’s badminton champion Mona Al Sahlawi and UAE football icons Ahmed Khalil and Habib Al Fardan have inspired young participants at the venue.
Dubai Sports World has expanded its offerings to include 12 badminton courts by Shuttle Time Dubai, four pro-standard pitches for 5-a-side football, four pro-standard pitches for 7-a-side football and rugby, six basketball courts, three tennis courts, a mini-cricket pitch, a regulation-sized volleyball court, a state-of-the-art gym, a dedicated fitness studio, a cycling studio, a running track and a free-to-enter Table Tennis Zone.
When it comes to the most epic road adventures of all time, the Gumball 3000 Rally definitely tops the list.
Aside from fast and luxurious vehicles, the world’s most lavish rally features live music concerts, action sports, spectacular car shows and a 3,000- mile drive across various cities around the globe. This year’s edition will see the drivers race from July 1-8, stopping in Riga, Warsaw, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Tirana, Athens and Mykonos.
Representing the UAE are five close friends – Sheikh Mohamed Al Thani, Mohammed Al Othman, Masoud Mohammed, Raed Zidan and Omar Zidan, who will be driving their slick cars under the team banner of ‘Habibeez’. Sheikh Mohamed, chairman and co-founder of Musafir.com, spoke to Sport360 on competing in Gumball 3000, the message he wants to send and the design of the team’s three cars.
The Gumball 3000 has become a global phenomenon since it was first launched in 1999. What made you enter?
I saw a film called The Cannonball Run, which was made in the 1980s and it was from then that I began to become familiar with the concept. I also love cars and have done so for many years. It wasn’t until I met the Gumball owner, Maximillion Cooper, in 2008 in Dubai, where he invited me to do the next rally. It was something I always wanted to do so I joined the following year.
This year will be the fourth time I’ll be competing. I competed in 2009, 2010 and 2012, but since then I haven’t been part of it since I was climbing mountains. I really enjoyed those three years, firstly, because it’s fun, plus this is the last time that I’ll be driving the cars (Rolls Royce Phantom, Mercedes SLR and Mercedes G63). The same cars have been driven in all the Gumballs and the reason we do this is to spread our culture We will be wearing traditional Emirati attire that will differentiate ourselves from the rest.
What are you looking forward to this year?
We are all very excited to be part of Gumball Rally 3000 again and we will be very loud and I think for sure we will be one of the largest teams in Gumball. I can’t wait to meet all my friends and people who I’ve shared the road before and making new friends. Although I haven’t done it for five years, I hope there isn’t too much changes from the other Gumballs. The thing I’m looking forward to the most is crossing the finish line because that will be when we finish 5,000km.
How did you enjoy the experience the first time?
Of course, it was something which I enjoyed. It was an amazing experience driving all around the world by doing cross countries in Gumball 3000. You get the opportunity to meet people from different places and everyone shares the same passion which is cars. It’s basically an environment where you would find people from all different backgrounds, driving from city to city.
What has been your favourite city in the Gumball Rally 3000?
I can’t really remember because there were so many different cities that I’ve visited during the Gumball Rally 3000. Some cities that stand out are Miami, London, New York, but it’s a difficult question to answer. The best thing is they close down some parts of the city where we park our cars in the centre of the road and then thousands of people see the cars lined up and enjoy the entertainment. It’s a huge event and we feel it’s a fantastic chance to spread our culture.
The cars have been designed by award winning Tunisian artist El-Seed with all having a unique design of calligraphy. Can you tell us more about this?
This year, we have an amazing design where there is a famous verse written on it: “He who does not like to climb mountains, lives his whole life between the cracks.” It’s something that me and my team-mates all believe in very highly. With the cars that we have and the strong and solid colours, we know they will stand out from the rest and it will be completely different from the other cars in the rally.
The name of the team is called ‘Habibeez’. What’s the reason behind the name?
Some of them are my close high school friends or people I’ve met along the way in my rallying. The name Habibeez is the most famous Arabic word and it can mean my friend or my love or many other things. It’s usually said to anyone who is a good friend and it’s the most common Arabic word. This is the reason why we are called the Habibeez because we are friends.
The summer is fast approaching but there’s plenty of incentive to stay active during the dog days at Al Forsan International Sports Resort.
Arguably the premiere sporting facility in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi-based venue has every sporting activity you need to improve your skills or be entertained.
And if there wasn’t enough reason to head to Al Forsan, the capital’s destination is offering special discounts for all schools and universities, with 15 per cent off on wakeboarding and motorsports, as well as 10 per cent off on paintball, archery and laser shooting.
For watersports lovers, Al Forsan’s watersports centre is perfectly equipped to provide thrills. The purpose-built pro and beginner lakes feature a cable that travels between 29 to 38 kilometres per hour, whether you’re on a wakeboard, wake skate, knee board, mono ski or water ski.
Al Forsan will also be hosting The Nationals Wakeboarding Championship on May 19 and anyone interested can sign up to show off their skills. The competition categories are boys aged seven to 11, girls seven to 14, boys 12 to 16, women open, men open and master 30-plus. Entry costs Dh250 per person.
If excitement on land is more your thing, Al Forsan’s motorsport offerings have you covered.
The venue’s kart circuit has three different configurations – Cadet (30 miles per hour for ages eight to 11), Senior (50 mph for ages 12-plus) and 2-stroke Rotax (70pmh for ages 16 and older). You can choose from an arrive-and-drive, endurance racing, Grand Prix racing, beginner and advanced lessons and more.
Another adrenaline-pumping activity available at the Al Forsan is paintball. Gather your family, friends and co-workers and take to the themed field inside the venue’s state-of-the-art, climate-controlled dome which allows players to keep gunning all year long. Choose from various packages and experiences, while equipment like guns, gloves and face masks are available to rent.
Marksmen in other fields, meanwhile, can hit up Al Forsan’s shooting range, which caters to shooters with ample experience, as well as complete beginners ready to learn.
Choose from sporting clays, a handgun range, rifle range, laser simulations and even archery if a bow and arrow are more your style.
Whatever sporting activity you’re looking for, Al Forsan has it.
WHAT: Al Forsan International Sports Resort
WHERE: Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi
WHEN: Open daily, with The Nationals Wakeboarding Competition commencing on May 19
CONTACT: Visit www.alforsan.com for more information