Basketball stars from the National Basketball Association (NBA) will be heading the UAE as part of a new multi-year agreement with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).
The deal will see Abu Dhabi host NBA pre-season games in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October 2022, in what will be first matches between two NBA teams in the Arabian Gulf, along with a number of fan activations and other events including the Jr NBA league.
Speaking to Sport360 at the Etihad Arena NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum said: “There are a number of reasons the NBA is excited to come to Abu Dhabi one of which being we have a lot of basketball fans here, the UAE is number two in terms of our NBA Pass consumption and number two in terms of our NBA 2K League consumption as well. When we look to bring our games outside of the US we look for world class facilities and Abu Dhabi certainly has that and is used to hosting huge international events.”
Ralph Rivera, Managing Director, NBA Europe and Middle East told Sport360 “We have been in discussions since pre-pandemic and it’s a testament to the teams involved that we’ve been able to get it done. It’s not just about the arena and the game, this partnership is about the experience we are bringing to Abu Dhabi. The set up in the city is ideal for the NBA offering, a week’s worth of experience.”
HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are very proud to have this multi-year deal with NBA, we have a lot of shared values with the brand. Positioning Abu Dhabi as a hub for world class events and NBA as part of the portfolio will definitely add value to Abu Dhabi but it’s also about the whole eco-system of the partnership along with developing talent so it’s not just a game, it’s more than a game.”
The partnership will also include a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, the launch of Jr. NBA Leagues for boys and girls at schools across the UAE fostering teamwork and inclusion, a series of NBA Fit Clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event.
The partnership will see DCT Abu Dhabi, under “Visit Abu Dhabi,” the tourism promotion initiative of the UAE’s capital city, serve as the Official Tourism Destination Partner of the NBA in China, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak added: “As Abu Dhabi is committed to further developing as a dynamic global destination, adding the NBA to our impressive year-round portfolio of sports and entertainment events, only reinforces the UAE capital’s standing as a centre of sporting excellence. We look forward to the NBA playing an integral role in developing young talent and healthy lifestyles at grassroots level – the heart of the UAE’s strategy, which places great emphasis on empowering youth and building a sustainable future for the nation and future generations.”
“As we celebrate the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Season, partnering with DCT Abu Dhabi to bring the first NBA and NBA 2K League games and events to the UAE marks an important milestone in basketball’s continued global growth,” added Mr. Tatum. “Abu Dhabi is a vibrant multicultural hub with a demonstrated track record of hosting world-class sporting events, and this partnership will not only bring the live NBA and NBA 2K League experience to fans in the Middle East, but it will also create opportunities for boys and girls to learn the fundamentals and core values of the game through a variety of grassroots programming and fan events.”
During the 2021-22 NBA season, NBA games and programming will reach fans in 11 countries across the Middle East. Fans in the Middle East can access extensive video highlights, news, stats, scores and original digital content in Arabic on the NBA’s official online destination. Fans in the region can also watch every NBA game live and on demand on NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service.
Abu Dhabi has consistently demonstrated its capabilities in hosting world-class sporting events. Pioneering initiatives such as DCT Abu Dhabi’s “Go Safe Certification” highlight the city’s unwavering commitment to the community and visitors’ health and safety, while enabling it to continue to hold the best of live sporting events. For more information about Abu Dhabi, please visit: https://visitabudhabi.ae/en/campaign/time-is-now.
Abu Dhabi will host preseason NBA games beginning with two games in October 2022. The participating teams and host venue will be announced at a later date. Fans can register their interest in receiving more information by visiting nba.com/abudhabi.