Two close observers of UAE football suggested yesterday that a Pro League club would be well served to pursue the services of David Beckham.
Kefah Al Kaabi, a TV and radio analyst, said initial stories indicating the 37-year-old midfielder may be heading for Australia after he winds up his time with the LA Galaxy, in 11 days, would not represent his best choice.
"Believe me, if he comes here he will enjoy life much more than in Australia," Al Kaabi said. "We have here what he likes. He likes the sun, and his wife likes to shop. I believe Dubai is the perfect example of the global ideal."
The Pro League in recent years has imported a handful of world-class football personalities, including Luca Toni, David Trezeguet and Fabio Cannavaro.
"Beckham is totally different," Al Kaabi said. "Cannavaro was a shining star in only one World Cup. He didn't do much as an international star. Beckham was England captain and is much more famous than Cannavaro.
"The name of Beckham and the image we get with this gentlemen … Some countries spend millions and millions on the sort of positive image he could bring here."
Carlo Nohra, the former chief executive of the Pro League as well as the Al Ain club, said the Englishman "is the sort of big name that will focus attention on UAE football, which is always positive".
He added: "I think he has that persona that after all these years that he would attract people to the game from different walks of life. Whereas Maradona was a genius on the pitch, Beckham is still playing."
Nohra believes Beckham and his advisers will be influenced by what they perceive to be best for "brand Beckham".
Even detractors of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid stalwart concede he has been effective in promoting recognition of his name.
"When you think about Beckham, you think of his brand, and that brand has a lot of following here," Nohra said.
"It would be just as viable to come here as to Australia or back to Europe."
Al Kaabi and Nohra suggested only the biggest of the UAE clubs would have the resources to reel in Beckham, perhaps for the second half of the Pro League 2012/13 schedule. "I could see him at Al Jazira," Al Kaabi said. "Sheikh Mansour [bin Zayed] could make it happen. Or at Al Wasl. These are big clubs, happy clubs."
Beckham has made one "business" visit to the UAE, in late 2009 and early 2010 as part of AC Milan's winter training camp here and for an exhibition game versus the German club Hamburg.
Beckham and AC Milan drew large crowds for their training sessions at the Al Nasr club grounds, eliciting "We want Beckham" chants from fans.
His wife, Victoria, spoke highly of their time in the UAE. "I can't remember the last time I had a holiday where I could just walk around without any make-up on, with a pair of flip-flops, with my kids, and just do regular stuff," she said in 2009. "Everyone's been very respectful. I will come back for that reason."