x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi is exploring polo project

The world's most powerful sport marketing company, IMG, is hoping to persuade Abu Dhabi to become a founding member of a polo competition.

The world's most powerful sport marketing company, IMG, is hoping to persuade Abu Dhabi to become a founding member of a polo competition that would be the equivalent of motor racing's Formula One Championship. Consultants from IMG, which manages major events and players in sport around the world including football, cricket and rugby, will arrive in the emirate on Monday for exploratory talks with officials about making Abu Dhabi the first Middle-Eastern venue for Polo in the Park, a series of polo matches around the world involving teams representing major cities.

IMG is likely to suggest a range of options to the officials, from fielding an Abu Dhabi team that would compete in the series to sponsoring a leg in the emirate. The company is working with Daniel Fox-Davies, a London businessman who runs a financial brokerage specialising in oil, gas and mining, and who is launching Polo in the Park next June in west London. There will be at least six professional teams, representing London and other world cities.

Mr Fox-Davies, who is an enthusiastic polo player, says the sport has "everything". "It is fast, exciting, glamorous," he says. "There is drama. Players barge into each other at top speed. What more could you want from a spectacle?" He wants matches to be played in a park or sport stadium, because they are accessible to large crowds, and he hopes to ensure commercial sponsorship by attracting television coverage of games.

Mr Fox-Davies hopes the matches in London will be followed by similar events in other cities and has talked to the authorities in New York about staging matches in Central Park. Other cities on his list are Buenos Aires, Paris, Mumbai, Moscow and Sydney. He hopes that Abu Dhabi will be persuaded to back the idea. He says polo could be "a perfect fit" for the emirate's plan to become a centre for world-class, upmarket sport events.

Traditional polo is well-established in the UAE. There are world class facilities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. sfreeman@thenational.ae