Set on 50 million square feet of land within the Dubailand development, Dubai Sports City is being billed as the world's first purpose-built sports city.
The centrepiece of the $4bn mega development is an 18-hole golf course designed by golf legend Ernie Els
, his first in the Middle East.
The Ernie Els Club, which recently had its grand opening, is the first venue to be completed in the development and sets a high standard for the rest of the community, according to Thomas Rubi, general manager of the club.
Getting a designer with the stature and reputation of Els was a coup for the club. 'In Dubai, brand names bring intrinsic value to a development,' Rubi explained. 'Having his name associated with the project has been phenomenal.'
Rubi is quick to point out that Els was interested in more than simply putting his name on the door. 'Els put a great deal of effort into the design, and he considers it his finest work to date,' he noted.
Fans of other sports will also find plenty to appeal to their tastes. Cricket devotees will be able to watch their beloved game at a new 25,000 seat cricket stadium that will be opened later this year, and a 5,000 seat hockey stadium is also slated for completion in 2008.
To top it off, the development will boast a 60,000 seat outdoor stadium for rugby, football and track and field events, and a 10,000 seat indoor arena is being built to be used for hard court sports and ice skating competitions.
For sports newbies, Dubai Sports City will also be home to world-renowned sporting academies including the first purpose-built Manchester United Soccer Schools facility anywhere in the world, the International Cricket Council's own ICC Global Cricket Academy, the first Butch Harmon School of Golf outside the US, the first-of-its-kind World Hockey Academy and a David Lloyd Tennis Academy.
Stuff for non-sports buffs
With so much emphasis on sports, how does the community plan to appeal to people who do not know the difference between a wicket and a birdie? Have no fear, the developers say, the city is not as one-dimensional as its name implies.
As if in a nod to wives who may not share their husbands' passions for sports, the community will offer more than 1.7 million square feet of retail space in three separate locations (Arena Mall, North Point and South Point), with completion due at the end of 2009. Arena Mall will be the largest (over 1.4 million sq ft) of the three, offering over 230 stores on two floors.
Each shopping district will offer a number of food outlets (including high-end eateries) along with a multi-cinema complex and an entertainment zone. Meanwhile, residents will be able to enjoy concerts and other shows at the indoor and outdoor stadiums. The community will also offer international schools, medical facilities and hotels.
One of the more appealing aspects of the community is that the sports and entertainment venues will be centrally located, meaning residents will be able to walk to wherever they need to go, Rubi said.
'Traffic is becoming an issue in Dubai. People are becoming less reluctant to drive to Deira for a night out. Our community will offer everything that residents need to have a good time, plus they will be able to walk, which is a rare thing in Dubai.'
However, while residents can walk everywhere, the unknown is the traffic chaos that will occur whenever there is a major sporting event, which will attract plenty or spectators, and therefore cars, into the city.
Sales of villas and townhomes at the development's Victory Heights Golf Estates have been brisk so far, with Phase One completely sold out and scheduled for delivery in the second half of this year. Phase two, which went on sale in January is mostly sold out and set for delivery in March 2009. See also:Review: The Els Club in DubaiWatch: Dubai Cricket Stadium TourMost Dubai golf estate phase II villas snapped up in three days