MENA leaders are setting the stage for more sports events to be hosted in the region.
A lot has changed in sports across the world in the last year. That’s owing to the pandemic. It forced the world to think differently about sports, and to revisit how to play and broadcast games and the technologies to add to potentially enhance a game, in the absence of fans in a stadium.
But equally, we have witnessed some winds of change in the MENA sports scene. If it was all about global football a few years ago, it’s not anymore. Local leagues are catching up and visionary leaders are encouraging the creation of other sports regionally.
The UAE Pro League, for instance, is an example of a dynamic local entity that has raised the level of national football and taken it to all seven continents for global viewing, and has been upping its game every year. Equally, the Saudi Pro League has a big fan following.
But like I said, it’s not just about football. While the UAE was already several steps ahead of the rest of the GCC fraternity in terms of hosting and broadcasting the world’s richest horse race, camel racing, falconry, rugby, cricket, tennis, Formula One races and more, Saudi Arabia is now pumping a lot of money into making it the next hotspot for games.
More recently, we have seen a lot of combat sports join the scene. At The Future of Sports Broadcasting Summit, our keynote interview was about how one entity is making muay Thai and kickboxing very relevant and important to the local scene, elevating it for both regional and international broadcast.
In short, regional leaders are setting the stage for sports events to be hosted here, and gradually we will see them extensively monetised. But more about this in the next issue of BroadcastPro. For this issue, our focus is on the content market. With Ramadan the most important period for TV broadcasters across MENA, we bring you an exclusive interview with one of the most revered figures in the world of Arabic content – Sadek Sabbah, CEO of Cedar Arts Production, one of the first companies in the region to be approached by the likes of Netflix, Banijay and The Walt Disney Company for regional productions.