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Volume 26 No. 232
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Sports Gaining Popularity In Middle East With More Fan Access

BAVAFA's Nakisa Bidarian believes sports will "benefit" from taking live events to the Middle East.
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
BAVAFA's Nakisa Bidarian believes sports will "benefit" from taking live events to the Middle East.
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
BAVAFA's Nakisa Bidarian believes sports will "benefit" from taking live events to the Middle East.
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN

BAVAFA Founder Nakisa Bidarian, who was previously with UFC and Fertitta Capital, addressed the growth of sports in the Middle East at the ’19 SBJ Dealmakers in Sports conference on Wednesday. Bidarian called this Saturday’s Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua bout in Saudi Arabia a "positive development." He said, "You have a very young population that, in certain markets, have been restricted in their access to content, and that is rapidly changing. This weekend, one of the biggest boxing matches of the last three years is happening in Saudi Arabia, and DAZN is distributing it."

As for the '22 FIFA World Cup, Bidarian praised host nation Qatar, but believes it would have been better to award that event to several countries in the area. He added that star athletes from the region will be key to the sports industry as a whole taking the next step moving forward. "The popularity of sport is rising quickly there," he said. "Can they create athletes that make the sport more relevant there? That is the question going forward."