x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai takes aim

The world's top darts players such as Phil Taylor could be visiting the UAE as part of plans to increase the sport's popularity.

Phil Taylor, left, and Raymond van Barneveld could be visiting Dubai as the Professional Darts Corporation looks to take the game of darts to new markets around the world.
Phil Taylor, left, and Raymond van Barneveld could be visiting Dubai as the Professional Darts Corporation looks to take the game of darts to new markets around the world.

DUBAI // The world's top darts players are poised to visit the country for a tournament in January as part of plans to increase the sport's popularity in the region, Barry Hearn, chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), said yesterday. Hearn, who is manager of the world champion Phil Taylor, is confident an event will be staged in Dubai in conjunction with the broadcaster Showtime Arabia, who would televise a two-day event shortly after the PDC World Championship concludes at the Alexandra Palace in London.

Hearn is involved in discussions with "three or four" possible venues. He said there was a strong interest in the Emirates to stage a tournament as part of a tour that will also take in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. Taylor - a 14-time world champion, and one of the most iconic players in the game - and fellow multiple world champions Raymond van Barneveld of Holland and Canada's John Part are expected to feature alongside the Premier League champion James Wade.

"We're talking to a number of people at the moment about coming out in January," said Hearn. "It has not been signed off yet, but it is certainly on our radar. The Middle East and Far East are really top of our agenda. "We're trying to take the game all over the world. We're very happy with the growth of the sport, and in the next month to six weeks, we should have everything tied up. It's exciting times for darts. Everything is going so well.

"The players are making lots of money, and the crowds are fantastic. I'm sure there will be a lot of interest in Dubai to watch Phil and his crew." The Las Vegas Desert Classic is this week in its eighth year in the USA, while the PDC have also held events in China and South Africa. "We've had very good feedback. I'm always loathed to commit 100 per cent until I can say agreements are in place, but I'm 85 per cent certain we will be there in January," added Hearn.

"We are hoping it would be the top four in the world coming over to play some local guys then playing a tournament themselves." Taylor is widely regarded as the greatest player the game has seen. He has recorded several nine dart finishes, a perfect game, live on TV. He is looking forward to a visit to the Emirates. "The professional game is spreading around the world and I've been to China, Japan and South Africa in the past few years, so Dubai would be another good step," he said.

"That would be very exciting and I'd love to be a part of that." dkane@thenational.ae