DUBAI // Barclays, the title sponsors of the Dubai Tennis Championships, have said the criticism aimed at the event following the refusal to give an Israeli player a visa will not have any long-term detrimental effect on the tournament.
Shahar Peer's exclusion from the women's competition drew harsh comments from the WTA and players such as Venus Williams. The WTA chief executive Larry Scott warned organisers that should Israeli players be barred from the UAE in future then the tournament could be taken away from the country. Andy Ram, an Israeli doubles players, was granted a visa. Michael Miebach, the managing director of Barclays Commercial Banking in the region, is confident the tournament can put the controversy behind it.
"I think we saw significantly less discussion in the second half of the tournament so we are moving in the right direction," he said. "We just concentrated on the tournament itself and tried to make the best of it. "Those problems overshadowed the fact that the world's top-10 women came here to play. "That was a spectacular success for the tournament and we are very excited about that. "We were a little unfortunate with the men's tournament with key people being injured or not feeling well. The line up could have been better but we have still seen some good tennis which is the main thing and I regard the fortnight to have been a success."
This is the second year of Barclays' three-year deal with the owners of the 17-year-old event, Dubai Duty Free, to support the annual tournament. Miebach expects the partnership to continue beyond its expiry in 2011. That would see their name on the event when it moves to Dubai Sports City (DSC), where the 10,000 capacity stadium will be able to accommodate double the number of supporters who can watch at the Aviation Club.