Yesterday marked the start of the 6th edition of the Sport Industry Forum, this year supported by the Abu Dhabi Department of Community Development and Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
Over 160 senior sport business professionals gathered in the capital to discuss the current challenges faced in their sector, and how their collective efforts can grow sport across the GCC. Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the Sport Industry Forum is timely as the emirate continues a packed season of sports events.
H.E. Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said during his opening keynote interview: “Abu Dhabi continues to grow and add to its portfolio of major sports events. We recently finished the inaugural Abu Dhabi Bike Festival, while the UAE national football team play Argentina this evening, and then we move into a sold-out Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. Abu Dhabi Sports Council, as well as providing the best sporting spectacles, also continues to develop community sports to encourage more citizens and residents to take part. Whether a fan or a participant, there is something here for everyone.”
Making his regional debut, Abu Dhabi welcomed Richard Scudamore who offered some fascinating insights into growing the English Premier League into the most-watched football league in the world over 20 years as its head. In a no-holds-barred interview, Richard shared his thoughts on plans for a European Super League, which fell apart after a backlash from fans, and even The Ryder Cup following the emergence of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour.
Richard Scudamore returns to the Forum today to lead a 2-hour interactive session for senior management from sports federations, clubs and businesses wishing to “Sustainably Grow a Successful Sports Organization”.
John Obi Mikel provided a light-hearted and humorous end to day one proceedings with stories from his time as a Chelsea and Nigeria professional footballer. Mikel was the winner of 13 trophies including the UEFA Champions League and African Cup of Nations.
Other experts speaking at the Sport Industry Forum included H.E. Dr. Omniyat Al Hajeri, Executive Director – Community Health of Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and Vice Chair of Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Shaima Alhusseini, Managing Director of the Saudi Sports for All Federation, Jonathan Emery, CEO of Aldar Development, and Saif Al Noaimi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management.