Sport and the ‘Disneyfication’ of UAE

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    As many Western cities move into the post-Fordist economy, sporting arenas have been used to transform decaying urban public spaces in major cities. Onetime industrial landscapes have been transformed into sporting, entertainment and events areas, as governments and business embrace the emerging global sports-culture economy. This development has not been confined to the West. Other cities have embraced the sports-culture economy, but not to extent like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The cities’ sculptured landscapes contain many iconic structures which act as backdrops to a cluttered sporting calendar. These UAE city-states house the Dubai and Zayed sports cities, the Yas Island’s Formula One circuit, Ferrari World and Meydan horse race course. These themed areas within cities dedicated to sport offer more than just sport. These sport cities and precincts connect the UAE to the world through staging sporting and cultural events of global significance. In investing in sporting infrastructure, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are signalling that they are moving beyond the reliance on oil to embrace a sports-culture economy. The sporting spaces that have been developed cater for different audiences and have resulted in the Disneyfication of the UAE. With the amalgamation of sport, tourism, entertainment and business in these spaces, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have conformed to Walt Disney’s concept of building theme parks with activities and facilities to cater for all comers. This Disneyfication signals the UAE’s goal of becoming a global tourism and business hub in the Arab world. Post 9/11 sport has been used to ‘Disneyfy’ Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Westerners’ consumption.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Playing Field
    Subtitle of host publicationMaking Sense of Spaces and Places in Sporting Culture
    EditorsColin Howley, Susan Dun
    Place of PublicationOxford UK
    PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)9781848884359
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • United Arab Emirates
    • Disneyfication
    • sport cities
    • Abu Dhabi
    • Dubai
    • urban space
    • development
    • culture
    • tourism

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