2019 has seen the Middle East create some of sport’s most inspiring experiences, including Anthony Joshua’s becoming the heavyweight champion in Diriyah, 50 Premier League Goals for Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah, Qatar’s first AFC Asian Cup win, and Bahrain lifting their first Arabian Gulf Cup.
2020 promises to be an even bigger sporting year for the Middle East now that Saudi Arabia has brokered a 10-year hosting deal with World Snooker, hosted the 2020 Dakar Rally in January and is due to deliver the first-ever Ladies European Tour golf tournament in March.
The financial status of the region plays a big part. Investment and commercial opportunities are plentiful. The Spanish Super Cup, The Italian Domestic Cup and the para-athletics championships in Doha are just some of the beneficiaries. Moreover, companies such as Nike are producing digital campaigns to raise the profile of the UAE sporting culture.
This has proven an excellent opportunity for the Middle East to use sport to unite the region. Examples of this include some inspiring and enable paradigm shifts in gender equality and inclusion. Refreshing firsts, such as Sham Al-Ghamdi, the first female football referee, Iranian women attending a men’s football match for the first time in Tehran have reached our screens, and Mohammad Al Hammadi recently winning the United Arab Emirates first-ever world para athletic championship gold medal.
Ultimately, equality, diversity and inclusion in sport and society can only benefit from the strengthening relationship built between the Middle East and sport.
To ensure the Middle East sports scene remains a sustainable asset for the future, investment in athletes and talent at the grassroots level should be prioritised. Talented newcomers such as Zuhayr Al-Qahtani (Saudi’s first professional boxer), Talal Bader (Saudi’s youngest Dakar Rally competitor) and many more should be encouraged and supported to become household names and will help the region to develop more role models for aspiring young athletes.
Without question, the Middle East’s extraordinary journey is enhancing its identity to millions across the globe. To follow the region’s exciting adventures in international sport, be sure to check out Arabian Peninsula Sport Management’s (APSM) Digital Marketing channels below. APSM is a niche sport, entertainment and events company helping to nurture the growth of Arabian Peninsula sports and they use their social media profile to champion the achievements made across the Middle East.
The relationship between the Middle East and sport has come so far already and it is truly exciting to see where the journey takes the region for the foreseeable future.
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