Sporting thrills in Dubai Sports City

Dubai Sports CityVictory Heights, a residential development comprising of 961 villas and townhouses in DSC, was completed in January

According to Sports City Index, an international ranking of cities around the world based on their sporting facilities, Dubai holds the nineteenth place out of 50 contestants, having beaten the likes of Boston (20), Manchester (22) and Johannesburg (23). Conducted by leading sports consultancies Around The Rings and TSE Consulting and voted by the public, the survey saw London topping the list for the second year in a row in December. Dubai jumped two places up from 21 in 2012.

As an emirate, Dubai has shown immense interest in sporting events for decades - it is home to the world's richest horse race, world-class tennis championships, golf tournaments and snooker championships. Football is a popular sport in the UAE, closely followed by cricket, golf, tennis, motor racing, horse riding, basketball, rugby and ethnic sports such as camel racing, falconry and endurance riding.

"Dubai is a very sports-friendly city," says Warren van der Merwe, Managing Director of Super Sports Dubai, a Dubai-based professional sports coaching and event management services provider. "From October to April, it is the ideal location for training camps for teams and individuals from abroad, as the weather is cooler and you are guaranteed sunny days-not like in their home countries."

The UAE is a country of sunny beaches, vast expanses of rolling sand dunes, green oases and rocky hills. Not content with what nature has provided, Dubai also offers opportunities for tobogganing, skiing, ice skating and other winter sports in temperature-controlled venues within malls.

"When we started 15 years ago, there were just two or three companies doing what we were doing,'' says van der Merwe. "With the expat community who are used to different sports back in their home countries, the interest is still huge."

Dubai Sports City
In Dubai one sees a clear drive towards designing a planned city with ample sporting activities, so much so that it has a dedicated sports city.

"The difference between any other major city such as London or Sydney and DSC is that those locations have evolved piecemeal while DSC is a planned location to include all three aspects - sport, residential and offices – as well as entertainment and living requirement,” says Vijay Sajjanhar, Chief Financial Officer, DSC.

Spread across 50 million sq ft of land, DSC is the vision of three leading entrepreneurs from the UAE - Abdulrahim AI Zarooni, Abdulrahman Bukhatir and Abdulrahman Falaknaz – to create a premier world-class sporting destination in line with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid AI Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

"The idea of DSC is summed up in three words: Live, work and play," says Khalid AI Zarooni, President, DSC. "It is about creating an environment that allows people to do their jobs, enjoy a fantastic quality of life with their families and experience the very best sporting facilities - all in one place."

DSC's 25,000-seat Dubai International Stadium has been operational since April 2009 and has staged more Twenty20 International cricket matches than anywhere else in the world. The International Cricket Council (ICC) Academy. located in DSC, is the international destination for the ICC's high-performance camps and features two full-sized ovals, both of which have staged international matches. Its practice facilities-both indoors and outdoors - have been used by numerous top international sides and the indoor facility stages nine adult tournaments a year.

The DSC Football Academy with three full-sized outdoor football pitches also boasts the only permanent full-sized indoor pitch in the UAE.

The Butch Harmon School of Golf at DSC is the only facility outside the US to be nm by Butch Harmon, who has coached, among others, Tiger Woods, The Els Club, an 18-hole championship golf course created by South African golfer and multiple major championship winner Ernie Els, has won international awards for design and presentation.

Like other projects, DSC was also hit by the global downturn of 2008, with several projects being stalled and shelved, but things are now looking up. Victory Heights, a residential development comprising of 961 villas and townhouses in DSC, was completed this January, six years after it was launched.

However, prices per square foot in Victory Heights have increased to Dh1,000 in the third quarter of last year, a growth of 18 per cent since the same period in 2012, according to Asteco.

While DSC is specifically designed to serve the sporting needs of its residents, Dubai has a number of other communities such as Emirates Hills, The Lakes, Meadows and The Springs, which have parks, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts and gyms. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) is one such community that is seen to have gained increasing popularity.

Jumeirah Lakes Towers
"Fitness and recreational amenities are certainly a priority for many people searching for a home or a location for their business,” says Matt Lomax, Director of Property at Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), master developers of JLT.

"We are constantly engaging with the community working and living in JLT to understand what amenities they require within the development, adds Lomax. "As a result, we are in the final stages of completing a new 55,000-square-metre community park in the heart of JLT, which will bring additional outdoor health and fitness amenities as well as a much sought after vast green outdoor space.

''We also recently opened a pedestrian bridge connecting the south side (Jebel Ali) of the development with the north side (Dubai) [by foot], which will enhance pedestrian access throughout the community and JLT's new planned facilities including a basketball court, two pedestrian boulevards, shaded pathways connecting the various areas of the park, children's amenities, a lakeside plaza and access to retail outlets on the promenade. Once the park opens, we expect to see those working and living in JLT taking advantage of it to stay active and healthy.”

Need or necessity?
But is sport an important consideration when people buy or rent homes and offices? "This is a question that can be answered by each individual but judging by the take-up of property within DSC, sport appears to be a very popular consideration," says Sajjanhar.

In demand
Attempting to avoid crowds at Dubai's sports stops is generally difficult, according to Warren Van Der Merwe, Managing Director Super Sports Dubai. “All venues are very busy -schools, municipal parks and beach clubs. With the construction of the Dubai Marina and JLT, you have plenty of accommodation but not many soccer fields and courts for people to play on, so they need to use the existing facilities and therefore these are fully booked and often. overcrowded."




Check Victory Heights of Dubai Sports City's latest market trends.

Source: R. Ganeriwal, Special to Property WeeklyPW

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