Sports venues put cities on the map

It seems appropriate that a world-class venue is now being built to host Dubai World Cup.

COMMENT, Business

It's easy to get caught up in the pace of development in Dubai, so much so that you give little time towards reflecting on the enormity of what's actually happening, or how the emirate may be perceived by the outside world.

Which is probably why I found that, during a recent visit to Italy, those not so familiar with the city associated it predominantly with a house that footballer David Beckham had bought on a 'strange island that looks like a palm' and one whose growth was being fuelled by petrodollars.

It may sound strange to us, but despite eclipsing the world's tallest tower just a few weeks before, few Italians knew that the Burj Dubai was being built. My visit to Italy coincided with the September issue of Monocle, a relatively new magazine about international business and politics, which dedicated its entire publication to 'country branding'.

It talked about the things emerging economies could be doing to give people something to remember them by, such as having a well-run airline, exporting the national food, building an international retail chain akin to Ikea, and winning the World Cup or a few Olympic gold medals.

While Dubai is no stranger to what it takes to put a country on the map, there's nothing like a sporting event to really elevate the image of a place in peoples' minds.

The Dubai World Cup is already popular among those living in the region, and year on year manages to attract more visitors from abroad, as well as the best horse trainers in the world.

So it seems appropriate that a world-class venue is now being built to host the event.

The grandstand itself will have a capacity for up to 60,000 spectators, and will be 1km long, making it the largest racecourse in the world.

The prize money for the main race will also be worth $10 million by the time the racecourse is ready to host the Dubai World Cup in 2010.

With the capacity to hold a myriad of other events, the Meydan project will only enhance Dubai's image abroad.

And even more so if they put an embargo on any further Robbie Williams concerts.

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