View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Abu Dhabi Purchase of Foreign Footy Club Impedes Emirati Identity

The Abu Dhabi United Group led by Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, purchased Manchester City Football Club and then boldly bought the Brazilian superstar Robinho as the first of many football players on his coach’s shopping list.

“Our goal is very simple,” said Al Fahim – “to make Manchester City the biggest club in the Premier League, and to begin with, to finish in the top four this season.”

Al Fahim, added, “This is a great event for both the club and Abu Dhabi.”

What is in it for Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates?

Al Fahim said "Our main objective is to publicise Abu Dhabi as a capital for sports, education and culture in the Middle East, in addition to giving the UAE people and residents the opportunity to train and interact with players from Manchester.”

The businessman who has been dubbed the ‘Donald Trump of Abu Dhabi’ admitted he thought the purchase was a way of getting Abu Dhabi footballers off the ground too.

This move may be a good investment financially and it is positive for Manchester City but how much will this help develop Emirati football players, especially as contenders for the team will be selected upon their own worth?

Abu Dhabi has purchased a branch of the Guggenheim Museum, a franchise of the Louvre and now an English football club.

In industry there has been a move towards Emiratization but in entertainment, the arts and now in sport it is a case of buying-in foreign products which ultimately impedes the development of a unique UAE national identity.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Sulaiman Al Fahim