Abu Dhabi signs historic deal to host NBA matches

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NBA games will soon be staged in Abu Dhabi. (AP)
NBA games will soon be staged in Abu Dhabi. (AP)

Published: Tue 16 Nov 2021, 6:31 PM

Basketball fans in the region are in for a treat as the UAE will host the pre-season games of the NBA next year.


Ashwani Kumar

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The NBA and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT – Abu Dhabi) have announced a multiyear partnership to host the first NBA games in the Capital.

Two preseason encounters in October 2022 will kickoff NBA’s foray into the Middle East.

The signing of the ground-breaking pact was witnessed by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, DCT – Abu Dhabi, said the major announcement demonstrates the emirate’s position as a top-tier home for global sports.

“As Abu Dhabi is committed to further developing as a dynamic global destination, adding the NBA to our impressive year-round portfolio of sports and entertainment events, only reinforces the UAE capital’s standing as a centre of sporting excellence,” Al Mubarak said.

“We look forward to the NBA playing an integral role in developing young talent and healthy lifestyles at grassroots level – the heart of the UAE’s strategy, which places great emphasis on empowering youth and building a sustainable future for the nation and future generations.”

The partnership will see DCT – Abu Dhabi, under ‘Visit Abu Dhabi’, the tourism promotion initiative of the UAE’s capital city, serve as the official tourism destination partner of the NBA in China, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Mark Tatum, NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, said Tuesday’s announcement was an important milestone in basketball history.

“As we celebrate the NBA’s 75th anniversary season, partnering with DCT – Abu Dhabi to bring the first NBA and NBA 2K League games and events to the UAE marks an important milestone in basketball’s continued global growth,” Tatum said.

The participating teams and host venue will be announced later.

“Abu Dhabi is a vibrant multicultural hub with a demonstrated track record of hosting world-class sporting events, and this partnership will not only bring the live NBA and NBA 2K League experience to fans in the Middle East, but it will also create opportunities for boys and girls to learn the fundamentals and core values of the game through a variety of grassroots programmes and fan events,” Tatum added.

The partnership will also include a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, the launch of Jr. NBA Leagues for boys and girls at schools across the UAE fostering teamwork and inclusion, a series of NBA Fit Clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event.

During the 2021-22 season, NBA games and programmes will reach fans in 11 countries across the Middle East. Fans in the Middle East can access extensive video highlights, news, stats, scores and original digital content in Arabic on the NBA’s official online destination.

Fans in the region can also watch every NBA game live and on demand on NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service.

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