DUBAI: His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, today received a senior delegation from World Rugby. The delegation was headed by Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman, and former England and British Lion and David Carrigy , World Rugby Chief of International Relations.
World Rugby’s visit to Dubai comes as the Emirates Sevens Stadium hosts the Final Qualification Tournament between Scotland and Columbia on 25 February, with both teams vying to book their spot to compete at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
During the meeting with His Highness Sheikh Ahmed, World Rugby officials discussed the importance of the airline’s ongoing support for the Emirates Dubai 7s, a major event on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit. The long-running Sevens tournament has been running for more than 50 years in Dubai, and Emirates was instrumental in growing its international status when it first began its support in 1987 in cooperation with World Rugby. Through clear focus and a strong commitment from the airline, the Emirates Dubai 7s has become the largest sports event in the region, with over 100,000 fans joining over the three day period in 2021.
His Highness commented on Emirates’ longstanding commitment to the sport: “From the outset, Emirates made a substantial investment in building and maintaining the Sevens Stadium which became a home for UAE social rugby clubs, and the main site hosting the Emirates Dubai 7s. The event has become the highlight of the Dubai event calendar, and the biggest and most popular sports and social gathering among the hundreds of other events hosted in the UAE every year.”
His Highness added: “Part of the government’s vision was to shape Dubai and the UAE as a global hub for major international sports events, and the largest centre for sporting excellence in the Middle East. Apart from accommodating more than 20,000 athletes every week, the Dubai Sevens, in cooperation with the Dubai Sports Council, also hosted the Emirates Invitational 7s Tournament during the pandemic to prepare teams for the Olympics when many other cities could not provide a safe location or organise competitions with robust health protocols. The Sevens Stadium also played host to the IPL and T20 World Cup Cricket teams during the pandemic, demonstrating Dubai’s ability to host world-class sport alongside everyday community usage.”
Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman said: “We are grateful to His Highness and Emirates Airline for their continued commitment towards the sport of rugby as well as their active involvement and support, not only in sponsoring major rugby events around the world, but playing an essential role in their own home base of Dubai to grow the Dubai 7s into a global tournament. Without Emirates’ support, this tournament would not have existed or be as successful as it is today.”
Emirates has helped elevate rugby’s profile in the UAE and around the world, working with World Rugby to promote the sport and engage with rugby fans and players.
Officials also discussed Dubai’s world-class sporting infrastructure and successful response to the pandemic, and both were crucial factors in helping the city play a major role in hosting number of global tournaments, including the Emirates Dubai 7s, when many events on the global sporting calendar had to be cancelled or postponed.
Emirates support for Rugby World Cup (RWC) began in 2007 when the event took place in France, and since then the airline has been a Worldwide Partner and Official Airline for the last four editions of RWC. The airline will partner with the global event again taking place next year in France.
The airline sponsors the jerseys of World Rugby’s Referee’s and Match Officials who take to the field in their Emirates ‘Fly Better’ kits. Emirates’ strong rugby partnerships also extend to the South African Lions Super Rugby team and their home venue, Emirates Airline Park, as well as the Dubai Hurricanes Football Club.