UAE aims for a six with IPL

India and Royal Challengers Bangalore Captain Virat Kohli greets fans from his Palm Jumeirah hotel on August 22

Excitement is rising. Cricket’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, second only to Formula One in stature, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is here in the UAE. Countdown towards September 19 start is underway, when the first IPL match takes place in Abu Dhabi.
This is arguably the biggest boost to the leisure, travel and entertainment sector of the UAE this year.

The spectacular tournament will see sixty games played over 53 days across three venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. In 2014, the UAE had partially hosted the IPL due to the general elections in India. During that event, there were reports of congestion at the Dubai airport trying to cope with the massive influx of fans from all over the world, specially, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and of course the Indian sub-continent.

We will have to wait and see how the mega event pans out and impacts inbound travel – TTN understands the first few games will be played out in empty stadiums. But as the tournament progresses towards the business end, and with the safety protocols proven by then, it would definitely become an opportunity for hundreds and thousands of fans from outside the UAE to fly in.

If that script is played out to perfection, UAE would have broken new ground, demonstrating to the region and world at large, the art of recovery from Covid-19 and creating opportunities for all. The preparations have been exemplary, and UAE’s authorities take the credit for swift decision-making. Collaboration between the travel and hospitality sector has been super-efficient to be able to organise and host the biggest league in cricket within a month’s notice – shows the UAE’s capacity and preparedness in hosting major global events.

Stringent standard operating protocols have been put in place for all eight teams to follow. A bio bubble themed operation plan secures the thousand plus core team members and their staff from outside contact. This applies to broadcast and accredited media.

Players are upbeat and that can translate to attractive performances on the field, this in turn will spur sponsors and fans – do not rule out bio-secure pop up fan zones and opening of the turnstiles at the stadium. IPL has over the past decade, become an important boost to the F&B sector – with Dubai and Abu Dhabi hosting the eight teams, there will be added fan fervour at restaurants and bars. We can several beachfront hotels, setting up screens on the beach for fans to enjoy live action and follow cheer their ‘home’ teams.

Some of the following hotels will be home to the stars, but expect many more to join the list once the red carpet is rolled out for overseas fans. Dubai: Oberoi, Taj Dubai, Sofitel Dubai The Palm, Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria. Abu Dhabi: St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton. According to independent valuation experts Duff & Phelps, the IPL ecosystem was valued at $6.7 billion in 2019.


By Abhiroop Sen