Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash

Sports has always been a global attraction. The Olympics, summer, and winter have brought competitive joy to all corners of the world. Likewise, FIFA have taken the World Cup, their flagship competition, to many different countries in the past. Diversifying the host nation or nations is the way sports federations and organisational bodies spread interest in their sport. To bring different cultures together in diverse environments.

If we take that into account, the idea of one region taking a firm grasp on hosting sporting events is quite unimaginable. But that is exactly what has been slowly happening in the Persian Gulf over the past years. We are currently seeing countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar slowly asserting their influence on major sporting events. Many sports already have a home in the Persian Gulf; Formula One and boxing to name a couple, while top footballers are already flocking to Saudi Arabia to ply their trade. But is basketball the next major sport to be seduced by the riches offered by the Persian Gulf? The region has been slowly cranking up its interest in the sport and with the next FIBA World Cup taking place in Qatar in 2027, we can only expect the interest to increase.

The riches that the Persian Gulf possesses are no secret to anyone that follows sport, and evidence of their influence can also be seen in the minority stake bought in the Washington Wizard’s basketball team by the sovereign wealth fund from Qatar in June 2023. The willingness of the Qatari group to make this investment shows how serious they are about NBA. And the influence in the region itself gained further impetus when Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves faced off in the preseason opener to the current 2023/24 NBA season. The curtain raiser also gave betting site reviews something different to write about as the Timberwolves beat Mavericks 111-99. Although betting markets and favourites are not massively affected by the change of location, the fans at home however miss out on a match of action, which is something many might have to get used to.

However, this was not the first match to be staged in the Persian Gulf. On 8th October 2022, the Atlanta Hawks defeated Milwaukee Bucks in Abu Dhabi in the first ever NBA match to be held in the region. Following the success of the two matches, it is safe to say there are likely to be more. The FIBA Asia Cup is also due to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2025, with the FIBA World Cup following two years later. The Persian Gulf sports train rumbles on.