Meet the Kerry Packer of the Persian Gulf – News



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Waleed Bukhatir talks about his visionary father Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, who revolutionized cricket in West Asia



Abdul Rahman Bukhatir with former Pakistani player Moin Khan during an ODI match between Pakistan and New Zealand in Sharjah. KT photo file

Posted: Wed, Nov 3, 2021, 12:39 AM

When Abdul Rahman Bukhatir brought the sporting elite to the United Arab Emirates for an exhibition match in 1981, no one could have imagined that it was the start of the glorious dance of cricket in the Sandy Desert.

Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad in action.

Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad in action.

Sharjah becomes a sought-after neutral place

The success of this hastily organized exhibition match between Sunil Gavaskar XI and Javed Miandad XI on any ground in Sharjah inspired Bukhatir to dream big.

Soon the Emirati businessman built a real stadium, paving the way for annual official tournaments in Sharjah.

Sharjah Cricket Stadium has become the most sought-after neutral stadium.

Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor (right), his wife Krishnna (left) and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.  KT photo file

Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor (right), his wife Krishnna (left) and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. KT photo file

And it even counted legendary Bollywood stars among its spectators who attended cricket classics featuring the best teams in the world.

Cricket comes to the United Arab Emirates

The game has never looked back as Sharjah’s meteoric rise has finally sown the seeds of cricket in this country. Two magnificent stadiums have been built in Dubai, known as the Ring of Fire, and the capital Abu Dhabi.

Today, the T20 World Cup being played in the United Arab Emirates is a testament to Bukhatir’s extraordinary vision.

Waleed Bukhatir, vice-president of Sharjah Cricket Stadium and son of the country’s cricket pioneer, said his father had always dreamed of the UAE hosting a World Cup.

“This is a big event happening in the United Arab Emirates, and we can see that his vision has come true,” Waleed told the Khaleej Times.

“You know that International for a Day (ODI) was just starting to become popular (in the early 1980s) and he managed to put on the most matches in the world. He has staged over 240 ODIs. The dream has come true for my father. The T20 World Cup takes place in the United Arab Emirates. He is very excited because his dream has come true, ”he added.

How Sharjah escalated the Indo-Pakistani rivalry

Having an India-Pakistan World Cup match in the United Arab Emirates is the icing on the cake.

Javed Miandad's last six balls helped Pakistan beat India in the 1986 Southern Asian Cup final in Sharjah.  KT photo file

Javed Miandad’s last six balls helped Pakistan beat India in the 1986 Southern Asian Cup final in Sharjah. KT photo file

After all, it was the intense duels between the two fierce rivals in Sharjah (who can forget Miandad’s last six-ball game on April 18, 1986?) That elevated the Indo-Pakistan rivalry to epic proportions.

“It’s a great thing to have an India-Pakistan World Cup match in the United Arab Emirates. You know India and Pakistan have played 43 ODI games in Sharjah and they have never played so many games anywhere else in the world, ”Waleed said.

No wonder, these 43 matches made the Indo-Pakistan cricket rivalry even more exciting. These matches have definitely left so many memories in people’s minds – Waleed Bukhatir, Vice President of Sharjah Cricket Stadium and son of UAE cricket pioneer Abdul Rahman Bukhatir

The buzz around Sharjah

Waleed believes the buzz Sharjah created around every Indo-Pakistan game has set the tone for the unbridled excitement that fans feel whenever these two teams meet at an ICC event.

“Sharjah has definitely played a very important role in the importance of Indo-Pakistani matches in world cricket. Now people are flying from so many places around the world to see this match. Today no match between the two. teams in two or three years, and tickets are sold by the time the dates are announced, so I think that by hosting 43 India-Pakistan matches, my dad has sent a powerful message to the world.

Waleed Bukhatir, Vice President of Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Waleed Bukhatir, Vice President of Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Bukhatir, who rarely makes public appearances these days due to his advanced age, still follows the game with a similar passion and intensity.

“My dad loves cricket. He continues to be passionate about the game. He enjoys watching every game. In fact, sometimes he comes to the stadium. He also knows most of the players, ”Waleed said.

Bukhatir’s passion for the game also rubbed off on Waleed who played the sport during his formative years. He has teamed up with his brother, Khalaf Bukhatir, General Manager of Bukhatir Group and General Manager (CEO) of Sharjah Cricket Stadium, to promote the game locally in the UAE.

Kerry Packer of the Persian Gulf

It’s no surprise that Bukhatir’s astonishing success has earned him comparisons to Kerry Packer, the late Australian media mogul who revolutionized cricket in the late 1970s by bringing night games and colorful clothing to the game. .

But Waleed says his father’s contribution to the sport ran deeper.

“You know he even created the CBFS (Cricketers Benefit Fund Series) for the (financial) benefit of the players who have worked so hard and played so many matches for their country,” said Waleed.

“As more matches happened he knew the passion for cricket was growing by leaps and bounds. And teams like Sri Lanka got better every time they played in Sharjah. Lankan players were eager to play Sharjah.

“So when it started to grow, celebrities started to come in, especially for India-Pakistan matches. My father brought the glamor, celebrity atmosphere and crowded stadiums to cricket to the United Arab Emirates. “

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