The need to develop the abilities of business professionals working in the UAE sports section has intensified in the past six months as the country faces the global economic downturn.
Adel Al Shared, CEO of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Programme for Sports Leadership Development, says the Emirates has identified sport as a "major contributor to [the] economy" and will work to grow the industry and maximise its potential during the credit crisis.
The programme, which was set up last year with a mandate of developing future sports leaders, will enroll 35 participants and develop their knowledge in the sector's commercial aspects.
"The UAE, as well as the Dubai Sports Council, is extremely keen to enhance the sports sector and invest into it because it is a major contributor to our economy, [the same] as it is in Europe," said Al Shared.
"We want to bring it up to a world class level and every 18 months we want to nurture 35 leaders who can manage and effect change in the sector from inside out, so that we have a productive and progressive sports sector in Dubai and the UAE."
More than 400 people, such as physicians, psychologists and media, applied to be enrolled in the programme, which is only open to Emiratis.
The top 35, none of whom were identified, were chosen to undergo the course. Al Shared revealed that seven of the group are female and the training will incorporate one-on-one tuition from overseas experts.
The CEO added one of the major focal points of the programme will be to teach the participants the intricacies of financial management.
"Some of the tournaments hosted by the UAE are very costly and are led by some of our participants," he said. "We want to teach them how to invest money smartly.
"We want to do a programme on financial management with focus on the policy-making part of the sector and the business practices worldwide, rather than just how to run a football club or a very tiny entity.
"The leadership also needs to create strategic relationships in the private sector and identify specific needs before then acting to solve these."
One of the needs of the UAE seems to be the lack of local talent in its most popular sports. The country has invested huge amounts of money into hosting glamorous tennis and golf tournaments, and bringing in big-name stars from overseas to play. However there appears to be few Emiratis progressing in these sports.
Al Shared stressed though that the programme aims to encourage its students to address this issue.
"One of the participants from last year has started projects for children under the age of 12," said Al Shared. "He trains and nurtures young sportsmen, identifying those with talents to succeed through assessment.
"He was the one who actually identified the boy who won a bronze medal in karate in an Asian Championship last month.
"This participant is the vice-president of DP World as well, so he is extremely busy yet it is his goal to show others how they can build a new generation with less money and no support from the government using only project management skills."
Al Shared added he is confident the benefits of the programme to the UAE will soon become apparent.
"We have never had such an advanced leadership programme for sports; this is the first time," he said. "Now we have mentoring, individual-advisor projects.
"This country is not like Europe: we have a small population. We cannot afford people not to contribute to society. We need everyone."
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