Both global and domestic motives mark the sporting scene in the UAE. The global motive is a natural component of our global society. The UAE is a cosmopolitan destination and a global crossroads. People living and working in the UAE become global citizens—people whose scope of vision, understanding, and interest traverses national borders; people whose guiding values are more universal than provincial. And they all bring to our country the sports of their countries. The sports of the UAE are much more than just falconry and camel racing and skiing in the Dubai Mall.
Early in 2014, the government of India ruled that during the extended period for national elections, it could not provide security for the first 20 matches scheduled for the Indian Premier League (IPL). Thus, the IPL relocated the matches to our magnificent stadia in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Fans completely filled the stadiums for those 20 matches during the last 15 days of April. The sport, by the way, was cricket. We cherish the bridges that cricket has built between the international communities within the UAE. These bridges are a vital part of a complex crossing system that also features rugby, football, and basketball, and these sports bridge the gap for races of all kinds. They are representative of an extensive inventory of sporting bridges in the UAE, bridges crossed daily by our global population.
Sports demand dedication, practice, coordination, balance, alertness, concentration, technique, judgment, discipline, patience, daring, civility, and teamwork. Those are also the attributes that strengthen individuals and increase their ability to make a positive difference in their communities. Our UAE leadership values those attributes. His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has said that our country “has relied, and will continue to rely, on the rich and diverse contributions of its true wealth, its people, to guarantee its prosperity." Our true wealth lies in people with the attributes that are also valued by the sports that appeal to our global population. Here in Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, believes strongly in the value of sports to a well-developed society. His strong support of the variety of sports played in the UAE helps everyone in our country to enjoy the benefits of athletic competition in improving the quality of our lives and in advancing the values of peace and understanding, both domestically and globally.
In the UAE, you will notice that global motives intertwine with domestic motives in regard to our support of major international sporting events. We embrace sports because we hope to see UAE citizens as well as all of our residents from around the world participate in sports and reap the benefits for mind and body so generously offered by sports. Our children and our young men and women are our primary concern. If the Roman poet Ovid is right that “nothing is stronger than habit," then we must encourage our young people to develop in a safe way with the healthiest habits. The danger for them, and for our country's future, lies in their not developing those habits.
To embrace sports is to embrace life. I highly recommend it and wish for you all a wholly productive conference. Women as well as men can excel in the competition and achieve success. And that in appreciating achievement in the sports world, we honor the human spirit, the hard work, the endurance, and the focus that success requires.