Dubai Sports Council’s Acting Director of Sports Events Hessa Mohammed Alkous, talks to Sport Industry Insider about Dubai Sports Gate – an idea that aims to provide comprehensive access to sport in the emirate. 

It appears the success of the 2017 Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) has stoked the flames of digital innovation in the emirate. The impressive number of participants – 760,000 signed up, far exceeding the 100,000 target – showed that with an engaging concept, the imagination of Dubai’s residents can be effectively captured.

Preparations for the DFC 2018 are well under way but beyond that, the Dubai Sports Council has been exploring ways to build on the sporting progress made.

One particularly exciting idea to emerge is that of Dubai Gate, a project that aims to provide a comprehensive, immersive experience of sport in the emirate. While apps such as Guava Pass and Classport offer residents the chance to book fitness classes, this new app aims to be all-encompassing.

Borne out of Dubai Government’s ‘Dubai 10X’ project – which challenged government entities to create innovative technological solutions – the idea of Dubai Sports Gate is that through one source, sports lovers can book facilities of any description across the emirate. It is designed to offer people of all ages and abilities a clearer pathway into sport.

“We realised that in Dubai there were many different websites and applications that had various information about sport,” Hessa Mohammed Alkous, Acting Director of Sports Events for Dubai Sports Council, tells Sport Industry Insider. “But there wasn’t that one website or app that held everything; that’s what the Gate is all about – that’s what makes it unique.

“We intend to collate all sports-related information into one platform for the general public to access, a one stop shop for sport in Dubai. We will include all the information necessary about each sport – from upcoming events to sports venues.

“Dubai Sports Gate will tell you how you can get there and back, what hotels are within the vicinity and what other infrastructure is around the same area to entertain you. We hope to include information surrounding ticketing, accommodation, transportation, loyalty programs.

“Importantly we want Dubai Sports Gate to be used by everyone who wants to try sport – including those with specific disabilities. From being able to read the content online – those who perhaps have Dyslexia or are blind or deaf –  to those who have physical disabilities, who want to participate in events but who are not quite sure about the facilities. This will be a totally inclusive product.”

While not a brand new idea – the likes of Time Out, What’s On Dubai and Sport360 have previously attempted to provide databases of sporting venues and events – the depth of the data on Dubai Sports Gate would be beyond what any company has achieved thus far.

It’s an ambitious project, but Alkous believes that the Dubai Sports Council has both the reach and resources to make it a reality.

“We are still in the planning phases at the moment, but we are looking to move forward as quickly as possible,” she explains. “Of course it is a lot of work – most existing platforms have very specific target audiences; our strategy is to include the mass population as much as we can.

“It’s a major product and deciding exactly who will build the app is being studied at the moment. Most likely we will be tendering this and encouraging those companies that are up to the challenge of the very wide scope of Dubai Sports Gate’s website/app requires.”

With such a wide scope comes the potential to reach a significant portion of the population of Dubai. That makes it a very interesting prospect for potential sponsors, though Alkous insists the primary aim of the app will always be to provide a resource for the emirate’s citizens.

“There will many sponsorship opportunities, for sure,” Alkous says. “We are currently exploring what the best approach will be but will announce this soon and are really looking forward to the opportunities that could come from Dubai Gate.

“But beyond the commercial side, it’s crucial to remember that the main idea is that this project will have a very positive impact on the community. We look forward to creating Dubai Gate as the benchmark to be used around the world.”