On-boarding sponsors for the 2018 Dubai Fitness Challenge was an easy task according to Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE).

Almost 750,000 people signed up to last year’s inaugural Dubai Fitness Challenge, promising to complete 30 minutes of exercise for 30 consecutive days.

That response was way above the predicted 100,000 participants but with a target of one million sign-ups this time around, there has been greater pressure on organisers.

However, Al Khaja – one of the key figures behind the 2018 Dubai Fitness Challenge – insists that the success of the initiative’s maiden incarnation has made it easier to attract crucial public and private sector partners.

“We have many sponsors and this comes from their belief in the importance of fitness in changing people’s lives,” Al Khaja told Sport Industry Insider.

“Everyone sees the appeal of a partnership – there is mass participation. It wasn’t difficult to attract companies to participate. We found they were knocking on our door wanting to be part of this event. This is Dubai’s event – it is built by industry, it comes from the city giving back to the people.”

Partners for the 2018 Dubai Fitness Challenge come from different sectors – from health to facilities to medical clinics. And Al Khaja revealed the opportunity to showcase services to a wider audience has been appealing for sponsors.

“There are different activations,” he said. “The minimum is that we provide a fitness program for their staff. That is a key part of the package.

“Most of the sponsors are also related to health and fitness so they have sessions to showcase their product or fitness equipment or classes.”

The 2018 Dubai Fitness Challenge kicked off on October 24 and will run until November 24, with Al Khaja hoping that people will take full advantage of the range of exercise opportunities on offer.

“It is totally different to last year – a total upgrade,” Al Khaja added. “We have more than 3,000 free classes available for the public and if people download the app they can register for these and get the benefit.

“For us this event is meant to change residents’ lives. It is a CSR initiative, a successful partnership between the private and public sector.”