By Nick Butler

Dubai will launch a bid for the Olympics within the next eight years, it has been claimed ©Getty ImagesDubai has provided the strongest indicator yet of its Olympic ambitions after Ali Omar, director of the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) sports development department, claimed they hope to submit a bid to host the Games within the next eight years.

Ever since a decision was made to diversify beyond an economic structure dictated purely by oil, Dubai, the most populous city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates, has identified sport as a major way to continue its rapid development.

The emirate hosts two major annual tournaments in the sports of tennis and golf, as well as the Dubai World Cup horse race and the Dubai Sevens tournament, an annual leg of the International Rugby Board World Sevens Series.

Since 2005 it has also provided the headquarters for the International Cricket Council.

Yet, although seriously considered launching bids for both the 2016 and 2020, Dubai is yet to formally bid for the Olympics, and had already been announced in July 2013 that they would not bid for the 2024 edition of the Games.

This is particularly due to the distraction of hosting the World Expo in Dubai in 2020.

Hosting the World Expo in 2020 is another major ambition for Dubai ©Getty ImagesHosting the World Expo in 2020 is another major ambition for Dubai ©Getty Images

Yet Omar has now provided proof that an Olympic bid is the ultimate aim and very much still the agenda.

"Hosting the Olympics is a dream," he told Xinhua.

"We hope to submit such a bid within the next eight years, God willing."

Ahmad Al Sharif, the DSC secretary-general, who spoke alongside Omar, claimed bringing the Asian Cup football tournament to Dubai would also be an option.

He hailed Dubai's achievements in hosting professional sports events and in enhancing sport facilities and holding fitness and health events for the general public.

Al Sharif said Dubai has already built a number of high-tech stadiums, and was capable of developing the many more such stadiums and facilities that would be required.

This marks a distinct shift after claims of a planned bid were initially dismissed late last year by Shaima Al Zarooni, a senior executive board member on the UAE National Olympic Committee.

Although she insisted Dubai remains capable of bidding for the Games - because of its strategic location, facilities, and the commitment of the local people - she said that "currently, we don't see any interest from the leadership [regarding an Olympic bid]".

"We are more focused on Expo 2020 and on making the event a success," she added.

This all means that a Dubai bid for the 2028 Games remains more feasible than a volte-face on the decision not to bid for 2024, particularly due to the strong feeling that a United States bid will triumph in the 2024 race whatever the opposition, should such a bid be launched. 

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