40 - THE INTERVIEW
H.E. SAEED HAREB:
“THE BOND BETWEEN BEACH SOCCER AND DUBAI WILL LAST FOR A LONG TIME” What makes Dubai so attractive to visitors? Everybody sees Dubai as a place where anything is possible. Whatever you imagine, you can make it happen in Dubai. This is because the city not only treasures state-of-the-art facilities, topclass hospitality and premium accommodation but also efficient and functional infrastructures as well as a sports-passionate citizenship. What matters is not just what Dubai has, but also how it offers that to its visitors and people in general, with the warm hospitality we are known for. This is something we all feel very proud of. Not many people are unaware of Dubai, which has become one of the top destinations in the world. Does this make your job easier or harder? I would say... both. The fact that everybody knows Dubai, and what they can find here, is obviously an advantage, since the projection of our city is undeniable. But it also brings with it a challenge to live up to everybody’s expectations. Awarded 2nd Best City of Hosting Sports events by the International Sports Events Management company, and recognised as one of the most prestigious sporting and touristic destinations in the world, you need to deliver at the maximum level at all times, without mistakes or setbacks. As they always say, it is harder to remain at the top than to become the best. What is the importance sport has for Dubai? Dubai has become one of the most highly-regarded sports destinations in the world and it is thanks to a combination of factors. People in Dubai are passionate about sports, not only because of their desire for entertainment, but also because of their capacity to teach values of companionship, team spirit and self-growth. For the Dubai Sports Council, it is key to strengthen these principles, following the vision of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.Earlier this year, the Council launched the Sports Creative Lab, an innovative lab that attracted all international and national professional guests in 6 respective fields such as: Women in Sports, Sports Events and Tourism etc. to discuss, strategize and plan the Emirate’s current problems and future solutions to develop the sector. As a result, 9 initiatives were born out of this Lab, initiatives that will be implemented within the next few years that will see an exponential growth in the market and further Dubai’s sporting ambitions worldwide. And how does Dubai manage to make it better? Dubai Sports Council wants to show sport and events at their best, and it is through excellence, top-class work and a professional approach that you achieve that. There is no other way. It is our philosophy, and our way of doing things. Two of the main objectives of the Dubai Sports Council are to develop and improve sports in Dubai and create a comprehensive sports environment. How does the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup Dubai contribute to these? We have always believed that beach soccer and Dubai are a perfect match, with all the values we seek. Beach soccer has become a
better, more international spectacle in Dubai, and the DSC has contributed to make it shine on our soil. At the same time, the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup, beach soccer’s most important yearly competition, contributes to create that comprehensive sports environment that Dubai is known for. Beach Soccer and Dubai have forged a strong relationship over the years, what does this relationship look like now? I think this relationship is now in one of its best moments. With the experience we have accumulated during these years, and the growth we have jointly shown, I can say that this relationship is more mature than ever. We have been working with Joan Cusco and his people for more than a decade, and you can clearly see how this partnership is helping us jointly deliver better, brighter events, built on philosophies we both believe in. Now, besides the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup, Dubai is also the home of the Beach Soccer Stars, the big celebration gala of beach soccer… This is proof of what we have been talking about. Beach soccer feels Dubai offers all the possibilities, and Dubai sees beach soccer as a valuable companion. This translates into a relationship where both sides want to do more and more. Most of the players and coaches always pick Dubai when they talk about their favourite beach soccer venue. How does that feel? It is something that makes us very happy. And it proves that we are achieving what we are working for. We want to showcase Dubai as a dream sports destination, and the feedback from athletes all over the world is highly satisfactory. And do you see this changing? As long as we keep working hard, hopefully not. Dubai still has plenty to offer and many high-level sporting experiences to stage. It is our job not to let this go unnoticed. What is your best memory involving beach soccer over the past decade? That is a difficult question to answer. Obviously, having hosted a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup is something that needs to be at top of your list. Especially because it was a highly successful one, one which everybody talks about. The Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup gets better every year, and that itself stands as a very unique memory. But I would hope my highlight with the sport is still to come, because the relationship between beach soccer and Dubai will last for a long time, with many new exciting chapters. Trust me, the best is yet to come. And what are your plans for the future? How can this relationship get stronger? I have no doubt that beach soccer and the Dubai Sports Council will keep walking side by side. There are a lot of projects to take on, many challenges to tackle, what will make the relationship stronger. There are still plenty more objectives to achieve, and we looking forward to that.