Scott McTominay the hero as Scotland beats Spain 2-0
Even before global stars like Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek began to enthrall fans with their sublime racquet skills, a dedicated and carefully selected team of in-house staff worked tirelessly and passionately behind the scenes to deliver a perfect Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Since 1993, tennis has been entrenched in the mainstream of Dubai’s popular culture thanks to Dubai Duty Free’s vision to attract world-class players to compete in this glorious city.
The humble beginning of the tournament, which was held in a temporary stadium at the Aviation Club in the inaugural years, seems almost unimaginable today.
But Colm McLoughlin, the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, and his team soon set out to transform the event into one of strength and stature, always ensuring in addition to growing the brand of Dubai.
The show-stopping event has expanded exponentially over the years with more and more local and global fans enjoying the fortnight-long event.
One of the best ways to put this in perspective is to consider the estimated average minute audience which is over 400 million television viewers with 5,000 fans in attendance on-site at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium every day.
However, none of this would have been possible without the support, passion, and amazing commitment of the 300-strong team that works behind the scenes and is headed by Dubai Duty Free Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Cidambi, who is also the Chairman of the Tournament’s Organising Committee, Salah Tahlak, Joint COO of Dubai Duty Free and the Tournament Director, and Sinead El Sibai, DDF Senior Vice-President, Marketing.
“Organising the event has been a great pathway for Dubai Duty Free to highlight the company’s core values and uniqueness in having so many in-house staff involved in running the tournament, right from the top, and all of them are given a great opportunity to be part of this world-class event,” said Sinead El Sibai, who has been involved with the event since its launch.
While there is so much to do and so many people in attendance, it is important to ensure security and best fan experience.
This is where Zayed Al Shebli, Director of Event Security, plays a big role in ensuring the safety and security of the players, guests, and spectators.
Since 2008, Jasmin Micoyco, Project Manager of the WTA and ATP-sanctioned tournament, has played a pivotal role with the team behind the scenes, managing the overall coordination with all relevant departments while continuously looking for ways to engage multiple viewpoints.
“Organising a world-class tennis event like ours is very challenging but also very fulfilling,” she said. “Every year there is something new happening at the tournament. The team comes from diverse backgrounds but each one brings their commitment, craft, and ability to make the event a reality, and something that Dubai Duty Free can be proud of.
“The important thing is that this is an in-house event and each person handles his or her responsibilities while constantly coordinating with the whole team.”
While the event is essentially managed by the Dubai Duty Free Marketing Team, they engage and receive help from other departments like Operations, Finance, IT, Logistics, and Corporate Security. Each one plays a different, but significant role.
Anna Khan is tasked with managing the hospitality desk, event transportation, and practice court bookings and coordinating with the media agency and the appointed PR team for social and digital support. Backing her up is Elisa Yana who manages the event hotel booking, accreditation, arrival and departure schedules, and the meet-and-greet at the airport, while Noel Parial is in charge of venue set-up and office requirements as per the WTA and ATP standard requirements.
Also lending a big hand are Roland Arceo who coordinates and processes the visa applications of all players and officials and Bernard Aquino who takes care of Prime A seating booking, VIP invites, and complimentary tickets and issuance. He also looks after the magazine production in coordination with the appointed publisher. Maryam Al Raisi coordinates the Kid’s day activities and requirements in liaison with PR team. “There are so many people who are there to support the team, and all of them are professional and have a wonderful attitude,” adds Jasmin.
Some aspects have to be dealt with and tackled early, like choosing contractors to build the temporary stands, appointing suppliers for the temporary offices, AV requirement, which Andy Reyes manages.
Munnavar Saqqaf from the IT team takes care of the wifi and internet requirements of the event and his entire team is on top of things to ensure that there are no potential glitches while Beth Olaso manages the ticket Box Office with her team.
The sportingly fashionable ushers who direct fans to the correct seating at the stadium are all Dubai Duty Free Staff who use their good communication, politeness, and problem-solving skills to good effect. If there was a need to draw inspiration from senior management, the behind-the-scenes team have to look no further than the motivational figures of Colm McLoughlin, Ramesh Cidambi, Salah Tahlak, and Sinead El Sibai.
“Our Senior Management is always there to offer a helping hand or advice,” said Anna Khan. “It makes it more encouraging when you have that support because there are things that constantly need approval or revision and the decisions have to be taken quickly.”
Organising an event of the size and stature of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which has won numerous awards since its inception in 1993, is by no means an easy task.
Every touchpoint requires meticulous planning and marketing strategy that covers every aspect before, during the event's life cycle, and after it ends.
The planning for the next tournament starts right after the event is over which is when the Organising Committee reviews what transpired during the year while making notes and looking for ways to improve in the future.
With the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships having set a high standard there is no room for the team to sit back on the laurels as they are always looking for ways to improve further.
“It’s a very challenging few months and two intense weeks during the actual event, but when you see happy faces all around it’s the greatest feeling,” says Jasmin.
As you can imagine, the ‘back-room team’ at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships is a crucial piece of the puzzle that falls perfectly into place each February in Dubai.
Scott McTominay the hero as Scotland beats Spain 2-0
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