The Arabian Corporate Games will be held from April 8 to 11 in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The games are being brought to the UAE by the Higher Colleges of Technology, Centre of Excellence for Research and Training Group of Companies and by the Kalypso Adventures group of the UK.
The games will be an annual event in the Middle East over the next five years and are being touted as a great opportunity for businesses to network and for countries to increase their revenue and tourism.
The Arabian Corporate Games spread over four days will have 19 disciplines of sports, including golf, badminton, soccer, beach volleyball, cricket, etc.
Emirates Business spoke to Vicki Gregory, Games Director, Arabian Corporate Games, to find out more about the games and how they benefit the host country, businesses and participants.
What are the criteria for participating?
The beauty of Corporate Games is that they are free of any restrictions on age, gender or race. They are designed for the everyday athlete who loves sport and wants to combine sport and business. These "weekend sports warriors" have to represent a business, company, institution or club to participate.
There are no qualifying standards. Irrespective of whether you enter one or 1,000 athletes the entry fee is Dh500 per person with golf, karting and ten-pin bowling being the only exceptions.
Individuals can also enter the games and we encourage organisations to bring family, friends and clients into their teams. In fact, we've had a nine-year-old as the drummer in a Dragon Boat for her mother's team and a 76-year-old man play in his son's company's golf team. Also, lawyers have invited clients to join them and play in their soccer team.
If you don't have anyone to play for you can enter our Sport For Life team or you can always join the Games Official Charity team, which, in the case of the Arabian Corporate Games, is the Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs in Dubai.
You pay a games fee of Dh1,000 of which Dh500 goes directly to the charity. Part of the proceeds in our first year will be going to Al Noor to help buy sports equipment for the centre.
What are the rewards for the winners?
Winners in the Arabian Corporate Games will be rewarded with free entry to the World Corporate Games that take place in Moscow, Russia, this November. Also in order to be as inclusive as possible we have closing awards that recognises organisations on a number of levels and medals are won in every event.
How is the CERT involved?
CERT believes this is a good commercial venture for the company to join forces with Kalypso Adventures UK and bring the Corporate Games to the UAE. As part of its vision in bringing different industries and ventures that can create opportunities for the graduating fraternity of the Higher Colleges of Technology in years to come, CERT sees a similar value in the Corporate Games.
What does the host country gain?
The games produce a very large direct economic benefit that is not less than Dh16 million if there are 5,000 participants. It makes the host nation the corporate sport capital of the region and brings business-to-business benefits to all its participants thereby creating new enterprises and more business opportunities.
It provides opportunities for local administrators and officials to gain experience in a multi-sport festival and creates jobs and opportunities in sports for young people.
It also increases business and recreational tourism, has a positive effect on health and fitness in the work place and is a big step towards the reduction of obesity and lack of exercise.
How do the games benefit the participating companies?
The games bring organisations together on a level-playing platform irrespective of what sector they are from, their share price or annual turnover. There are plenty of opportunities to network but the main reason over 16,000 companies and organisations worldwide enter the games is that they provide an excellent means of building team spirit. Enhancing company morale, reducing absenteeism and improving the fitness of management and employees. We believe this is exactly what companies and organisations need now more than ever in these difficult economic times.
There are numerous additional benefits to playing in the games like building employee confidence and loyalty. Investing in morale, team spirit and business fitness, creating real "esprit de corps" and integrating management and workforce at every level, reaching new clients, new business and new customers through sport.
Also, they enhance awareness of the company name, product, service, or presence in the community, leading in the worldwide programme of sport for management and employees, seeing your company name in newspapers, magazines, brochures, programmes and corporate publications, television and the radio.
Companies can also hold conferences or company meetings in the host city and cheer their team on to success. It's one of the best investments your organisation will make as the Corporate Games are the ultimate mix of sport, business, and tourism.
What about tourism and businesses?
As the games grow they will bring more participants in from the region. The games are exceptionally valuable as a reason to come to the region in times when normal tourism may be weakening and when ordinary business travel is reduced. The project is a good reason to bring colleagues in from branches and offices abroad for meetings as well as the games. These participants often bring partners and family members as well as colleagues and return for subsequent visits. The business opportunities are substantial as the coming together of the many enterprises involved in the games creates a great deal of potential for business development, especially in the current economic situation.
Also the licensee for the games benefits through sponsorships, fees, suppliers and other financial activity. In keeping with the spirit of the UAE and its emirates the games are entrepreneurial, business-oriented, profitable and a growth industry worldwide. As such the licensee and the host nation both benefit from their success.
Plus sponsors get far greater direct benefit from the Corporate Games at immensely less cost than traditional elite sport sponsorship that are primarily directed towards brand awareness. Games sponsors do get considerable brand awareness of course but more importantly they get direct access to point of purchase sales in the SuperCentre, business-to-business meetings, meet-the-buyer opportunities and if they also enter a team they have the entire games as a marketing platform. The benefits are immense, including advertising, exhibition space, access to selected client companies and an 80,000 worldwide database of corporate contacts.
How do they benefit the athletes?
The Corporate Games offer a balance to elite events and provide opportunities for ordinary people to participate in competitive worldwide sport in their lifetime. The games open doors to meeting people from their own company who are otherwise simply e-mail addresses. They put a face to the person from the other offices. The games increase and enhance company spirit and morale, and especially in tough times the individual re-discovers pride in the organisation and in himself or herself. It is also great fun and emphasises health and fitness rather than eating and drinking.
The community of Corporate Games had its beginning in California, the US, in 1986 when the World Corporate Games was founded by the President of Sports For Life Dr Maureen Johnston.
The World Corporate Games was created to provide an opportunity for athletes of all ages, walks of life and ability to play in a worldwide multi-sport festival. Until its foundation, only the elite, representing nations or states, had the opportunity to compete in an open multi-sport event.
The first World Corporate Games was successfully staged in San Francisco in 1988.
Since then the Corporate Games have been staged in Hawaii, London, Malaysia, Johannesburg, Geneva, The Hague, Aberdeen, Budapest, and Leeds to name a few. Patrons have included Mitterand of France, Mandela of South Africa, Mahathir of Malaysia, Sanguinetti of Uruguay and Hetzog of Germany.
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