CULTURE

Dubai 2020 | TOURISM | B2B

More than luxurious malls, here's to the organizations working to advance sports and culture.

Saeed Mohammed Hareb
SAEED MOHAMMED HAREB
Secretary General
Dubai Sports Council (DSC)
Abdullah bin Eisa Al Serkal
ABDULLAH BIN EISA AL SERKAL
Director
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU)

How do sports contribute to Dubai's soft power and its brand?
SAEED MOHAMMED HAREB Sport is, has been, and always will be on the top of our government's agenda. It is a top objective of the Dubai Plan 2021. Our wise and visionary leadership understands that sport plays a big role in the growth and appeal of a global city. Sport is also becoming an increasingly important element in the tourism industry. According to some studies, the sports tourism industry is worth billions and expected to grow at a rate of more than 6% in the coming years. In Dubai, we have been building and investing in our sports industry for more than 40 years. Today, we can boast of sporting landmarks like the Meydan Racecourse and the Hamdan Sports Complex. We also have some of the world's best golf courses, including one in Hatta. Dubai is home to more than 200 nationalities and our sporting calendar embraces this diversity. Our focus is on encouraging every segment of our community to not just watch, but embrace sports and physical activity because sports is a fountain of positivity and happiness in society.

What relationship will you have with Expo 2020, and how are you leveraging this opportunity?
ABDULLAH BIN EISA AL SERKAL For Expo 2020, we are training the new staff and providing cultural orientation programs. Dubai needs about 35,000 volunteers for Expo 2020, 15% of which will be Emiratis. We also have programs for new teachers who want to know how our center trains staff. We are also training people as ambassadors for Expo 2020. We want to create a small neighborhood within the expo, offering an experience of a continuous journey through a small village site. Visitors to Dubai do not only want to talk about the Burj Khalifa, but they will also want to know why we are dressed like this and our other cultural traditions, and what people really need is to interact with locals. This is precisely how SMCCU began one of its first programs, mosque tours. Our legacy is to open doors and minds and connect hearts. One day I want to see this as an academy of cultural understanding—the Academy of Open Doors and Open Minds. Through the successes of the center and our future goals, we are working to create a positive and welcoming impression of the UAE.

How do you add value to Dubai's industries?
SMH Our greatest advantage is our leadership, which has turned Dubai into the jewel of the Gulf. Every time a top sports event or international sports federation decides to come to Dubai, they are assured of quality. This assurance of quality is the reason why all the world's sports stars, events, and international federations want to keep coming back. Beyond events, the sports stars keep coming here for their vacations because this is where they are assured of privacy. Their families also want to keep coming back because Dubai is a family destination, with multiple attractions to charm the young and old, men, women, and children.

ABEAS There are many other cultural institutes in the UAE, but we have discovered that people want to talk to an Emirati one. People do not want to go to the Holiday Inn or Sheraton, sit in a room, and watch PowerPoint presentations. SMCCU is in a 300-year-old historic district. We offer a more authentic experience. We train people in multiple areas including culture, religion, and business. We are consistently approached by business leaders and corporations, and we provide for their staff an environment of history and authenticity, and, at the same time, professionalism and a design tailored to their requirements. Our message is for foreigners, but the message is brought to them by locals. We try to train both Emiratis and non-Emiratis who were born and raised here. Some 80-90% of the training is Q&A sessions that go on inside and outside the classroom. Often, participants stay in touch with their presenter.