Dubai celebrates Euro 2012 victory
There may be only one winner of Euro 2012, but in terms of conveying the excitement and passion of the tournament, Dubai can celebrate a resounding victory of its own.
Scores of football fanatics have thronged bars and other venues in the city to watch all the action — and they have been richly rewarded.
There have been some thrilling games to savour, such as Sunday night’s penalty-shootout drama between England and Italy.
But also central to the success of the city’s celebration of the tournament has been how its world-renowned melting pot of cultures has bubbled to the fore.
While there has been no shortage of patriotic fervour from rival followers of the participating nations, non-Europeans have also warmly embraced the festival of football by adopting a team to support.
And it truly has been a case of a multitude of nations united in a shared love for the Beautiful Game, with football aficionados of all nationalities enjoying the televised footage side by side in glorious harmony.
South African Sam Maubane, an ardent Spain supporter, said he is revelling in the multinational magic Dubai has conjured up this month.
Speaking at the Mövenpick Hotel, Ibn Battuta Gate, on Sunday, he said: “Dubai has created a really nice football environment considering that 60 per cent of the people here are from countries other than Europe. I’m never disappointed with the atmosphere here.”
Meanwhile, Euro 2012 is the first major football championship The Huddle Sports Bar and Grill at the Citymax Hotel, Al Barsha, has covered televisually.
Traditionally a haunt favoured by English fans, bar manager Roxana Marcu enthused that ‘we have also welcomed a large contingent of French, German and Russian enthusiasts throughout the tournament’.
Dr Ali Mohammad, from Syria, was cheering for Italy at the Mövenpick Hotel on Sunday with his Lebanese friend, Waleed Khalifa.
He said: “It’s very nice to see people cheering for their own country and people of five or six other nationalities cheering for one team, having a good time and having fun.”
Roberto Coluccino, an Italian who works in Dubai, was in jubilant spirits in the early hours of Monday morning — and not just because he country had progressed to the semi-finals.
He said: “I am proud to be Italian, but I have loved watching the action with people from countries like Africa and Pakistan.”
In stark contrast, friends Tom Bushell and Toby Gregory, from England, were disconsolate at the Mövenpick Hotel following another gut-wrenching penalty-shootout loss for their country.
But they shrugged off their disappointment and were happy to give a glowing endorsement to Dubai’s growing status as a premier place to watch televised sport.
Gregory said: “Dubai is now not just a place to play sport, it’s a place to watch sport on TV. If you’re watching football in the UK, you’re herded in like cattle in pubs. Here, that doesn’t happen. I’ve had a really relaxed and chilled evening.”
Bushell added: “When you consider that only five per cent of people in Dubai are from Europe, the amount of passion shown towards the tournament in the Middle East is outstanding. Dubai’s done superbly well to cover the competition. Each hotel has created its own special environment and atmosphere.” __(Gulf News)
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