SPORTS

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | TOURISM & SPORTS | B2B

With many locals taking up more sports and growing interest from global tournaments, clubs strive to continue to provide the highest level of service.

Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi
SHEIKH SAQR BIN MOHAMMED AL QASIMI
Chairman
Sharjah Sports Council
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Thani
SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN ABDULLA AL THANI
Managing Director
Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club

What have been the association's key milestones?

Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Sharjah has always been a pioneer in breaking barriers for Arab women in the sports world. Ever since the formation of the first women's sports club in the UAE three decades ago in Sharjah, under the patronage of HH the wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, achievements have been building up for female athletes and teams both in domestic tournaments and abroad. The Sports Council remains committed to supporting such clubs, and recently has merged under its umbrella the newly formed Sharjah Women Sports Foundation, headed by one of the council's board members, to further dedicate focus to this important field, recruit more talent, and support female athletes in their careers.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Thani The Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club started in 2005, and today we have a nine-hole golf course, basketball courts, swimming pools, tennis courts, a mixed gym, a lady's gym, and both male and female spas. We also have our shooting department, archery, three different restaurants, football fields, CrossFit gyms, and a state-of-the-art paintball course. The club is diverse in terms of sport and has spawned a passion for staying active, trying new activities in Sharjah, while providing people the highest level of service. Our golf course, which has been internationally recognized for its quality turf and nine holes, is one of just a few fully flood-lit courses in the UAE and provides players with the possibility of playing and staying active day or night.

How do you work to nurture local talent and boost Sharjah's goal to become a sports hub in the UAE?

SSBMAQ Talent discovery camps are in place all year long. Scouting programs in partnership with children, youth, and girls centers are activated, followed by domestic training camps and occasionally international ones to allow this discovered talent to grow. Once the athlete joins one of the Emirate's clubs officially, attractive benefits and compensation are also awarded and a career is planned to allow him or her to unlock their highest potential. Last year, through a reformation of the Sharjah Sports Council, a diversified group of experts were appointed in the new board. The new formation came with a clear set of objectives and a new strategy to focus on discovering talent, investing in nurturing athletes, and—with the appointments of two female board members for the first time in the history of the council—dedicating a focused branch of the council's agenda and budget to the advancement of women in sports as well.

SMBAAT Firstly, being in Sharjah means we are family oriented, and we seek to provide this kind of atmosphere for our guests, thereby offering the club a unique selling point that is appreciated by families across the region. We also offer weekend or mid-week membership, though most of our members prefer the mid-week option. The mid-week option allows us to offer a more affordable price for members while leaving the weekends free to host competitions and championships, which in turn increases our visibility and profile throughout the region. As the club has grown and expanded into new sports and activities, membership has followed. There has been a large wave of people who wish to live more active lifestyles. We also have a popular juniors program for the children and teenagers, which is one of the strongest in the Emirates. We collaborate and work with many local schools to promote golf and other active sports. We can accommodate groups of 1,000-1,500 people on a variety of different activities making us one of the most flexible and accommodating venues. There is something going on almost every day.

How would you characterize your importance in the economic development of the Emirate?

SSBMAQ By hosting international tournaments, forums, and other events, the council is contributing in bringing traffic into the Emirate that will both achieve more exposure for Sharjah, and more business brought into its hospitality and tourism sectors.

SMBAAT Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club hosted the European Senior Tour in March 2017, one of the biggest events in the world and watched by 500 million people. It was a great honor to host it, and it was the first time in history that a European championship has been played on a nine-hole golf course. Apart from our advantageous location, we were able to show off our weather, accessibility, and hospitality offerings in the Emirate.