The Business Year

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KUWAIT - Tourism

Abdullah Alaskari

CDO, UFC GYM

Bio

Abdullah Alaskari has been involved in the fitness industry since 1998, and has studied business marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University and sports management at the Cruyff Institute of Sports in Barcelona. He has a PhD in sport business from the Paris School of Business. He established Clubfit Gym Co. in 2009, Evolve Supplements Co. in 2012, and was the managing partner of C Club Kuwait. He also established Life Beam for Gym Establishment and Management in 2015, and the 70/30 meal delivery service in 2018. Throughout the years, he has initiated numerous health and wellness facilities, such as Bidaya Athletic Academy for Children, Riaya Physiotherapy Clinic, Albidea Health Club Resort, and many more. In May 2021 he was appointed as Director of Business Development for UFC Gym Middle East.

"Today, UFC is one of the world’s most popular sports and fastest growing. As far as gyms are concerned, UFC is present in around 21 countries globally."

Abdullah Alaskari, CDO of UFC GYM, on the strength of the business in Kuwait, the popularity of sport in general, and plans for the future.

You are about to open the biggest UFC GYM in the region. What are your expectations?

Abdullah Alaskari: It is a truly exciting time for UFC GYM and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) globally. Today, UFC is one of the world’s most popular sports and fastest growing. As far as gyms are concerned, UFC is present in around 21 countries globally. We are extremely driven at UFC GYM, which is why we aim to open one gym per week worldwide going forward. It is in the company’s DNA to excel and succeed. Regarding Kuwait, we are certain the operation will become the flagship UFC GYM in the Middle East. It will be the second-largest UFC facility in the world and certainly the most luxurious.

What is your perspective on the sporting industry in Kuwait, and what is UFC’s strategy to leverage its success?

Abdullah Alaskari: Sport has always played an important role in the Kuwaiti society. Kuwaiti athletes have been successful in many fields, and the sports industry in Kuwait has been popular and highly appreciated for a long time. Martial arts, in particular, have been a popular discipline, with many Kuwaitis having had a chance to try it at some point in their life. UFC’s goal in Kuwait is to bring these disciplines to the surface and normalize them. The benefits of martial arts training are vast and can certainly help people take care of their bodies and minds more efficiently than a regular gym session. Besides, we believe in raising people’s self-esteem and confidence, as martial arts enable individuals to feel safer and protect themselves.

What are UFC GYM’s developments and achievements on the digital front?

Abdullah Alaskari: UFC has its own app. In Kuwait, we are currently working on an application called ALLUP that will bring together the entire fitness industry in the region. The project has been in the works for over two years. We are close to a launch date and expect to include 3,000 gyms. It is a project that I have been working on it alongside my team and the gym’s owner.

What are your expectations and plans for the coming years?

Abdullah Alaskari: At present, we have 15 facilities in operation throughout the region which includes UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Egypt. We also have eight that are currently under development and are expected to open by the end of 2022 or early 2023. Our short-term goal is to have 25 fully functional facilities by the beginning of 2023, with the medium-term goal of having more than 65 facilities in the region by 2028. We also have plans to expand into Turkey and Iraq. In addition, one of our main goals is to see mixed martial arts in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028. The president of the UFC has been lobbying for this with the Olympic committee in the US, and we are eagerly awaiting the result.

You recently partnered with the Ministry of Youth. What is the scope of this collaboration?

Abdullah Alaskari: UFC GYM has partnered with the Ministry of Youth to create a training program through which we provide opportunities for young Kuwaitis to become certified trainers with the UFC. They will do an eight-12-week certification program and, once certified, we will either hire them or help find them a job in the sector. Many people approach us wishing to set up their own gyms, and our company looks to help them achieve their dreams of business ownership. Our team is supportive throughout the initial stages of their careers. It is a program that the Ministry of Youth has delivered in partnership with international brands before—Google, Boeing, and Amazon have already taken part. This is the first year of the program for the UFC, and we will continue in this direction for as long as we can. Moreover, we recently signed an agreement with the armed forces, the police, and the fire department to train their staff in self-defense, replicating similar UFC initiatives in other countries.

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