Muscat: The first edition of Oman Sports Exhibition and Conference kicked off at the Oman International Exhibition Centre yesterday.
Sultan bin Salim Al Habsi, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Planning, inaugurated the three-day event organised by Global Exhibitions and Conferences (GEC) in partnership with the Ministry of Sport Affairs (MoSA).
Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed bin Said Al Mardhuof Al Saadi, minister of sports affairs; Fahad Abdullah Al Raisi, director-general of sports development and welfare at MoSA; Sayyid Khalid Al Busaidi, chairman of the Oman Football Association; government officials; and sports personalities attended the inauguration ceremony.
As many as 30 sports bodies, including six professional clubs and all the sports associations, global brands, governing bodies, and sports goods suppliers in the country, are participating in the event. Importers and distributors of equipment and services related to adventure and outdoor sports, gymnasiums, health and fitness clubs, various sports and games, sports medicine, sports consultancies, and training services are also taking part in the event.
In his address to the media soon after the inaugural ceremony, Al Saadi said an exhibition such as this would boost the reputation of the participating sporting bodies. "Sport, whether leisurely or competition-based, helps engage and build communities and fosters a sense of patriotism in people of all ages and backgrounds. Consequently, the Ministry of Sports Affairs is delighted to patronise this hugely promising event," he remarked.
Speaking to Times Sport yesterday, Al Raisi noted that the exhibition would set the tone for the eventual elevation of sports into a full-fledged industry in the country. "That is our aim. We want to make Oman a sporting destination," Al Raisi affirmed. "I am glad that the inauguration ceremony went well and that everyone has given us positive feedback on the first day. This motivates us to have this expo every year," Al Raisi stated.
However, the major highlight of the expo will be the conference at Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa today. The star of the one-day forum will be former Real Madrid and Blackburn Rovers player Michel Salgado, who will speak about his successful football career.
Other key speakers at the conference include Matthieu Reeb, general-secretary of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Lausanne; Stuart McInnes, international sports law consultant at CAS; Marc Theisen, honorary president of the Luxembourg Olympic Committee; Carlo Nohra, chief executive of Al Jazira Sport Club; Dr Amar Al Rowas, chief executive officer of OmanTel; and Dr Hamad Al Ghafri, National Youth Committee chairman. C.J. Paul, general manager of Global Exhibitions and Conferences, commented: "A great deal of consultation, planning, and effort has gone into the hosting of this event, which has the potential to evolve into the signature trade show of the sports industry in the Sultanate."
The Oman Football Association, OmanTel, and Nawras are the show's Platinum Partners; Oman Arab Bank and Muscat Eye Laser Center are the show's Gold Sponsors; Pocari Sweat, Almouj Golf, and Al Usra are the show's Silver Sponsors; RevGx is the Activity Partner; and Times of Oman, Al Shabiba, Hi, and Al Youm Al Sabah are the Exclusive Media Partners.