Belfast Telegraph

FIA chief strikes UUJ deal

By Sammy Hamill

One of the most influential figures in world motorsport, Mohammed Bin Sulayem, has paid a flying visit to Northern Ireland to sign a research and training agreement with the University of Ulster.

Described as “an historic agreement” it will see the university’s Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute carry out work on behalf of the increasingly important motorsport United Arab Emirates region.

It will also see UAE students coming to Northern Ireland to undertake research degrees at Masters and PhD level.

Now vice-president of the FIA, motorsport’s governing body, Bin Sulayem is the record 14-times Middle East rally champion, most of his successes shared with Irish co-driver Ronan Morgan. And it was the connection between Morgan, now clerk of the course for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and his fellow promoter of the World championship Rally Ireland, Sean O’Connor, which led to the link-up between the university and the UAE.

Dr David Hassan from the Sport Sciences Institute carried out economic impact research on the rally as well as other rounds of the World championship. This has now been expanded into a full-blown research programme involving the university and the UAE. Bin Sulayem, who was accompanied to the Jordanstown campus by the UAE Ambassador to the UK, Abdul Rahman Ghanim Al Mutaiwee, said the “potential for both parties is enormous”.

“Research and the creation of knowledge is critical to the development of motorsport, indeed all sports, in the UAE,” he said. “This agreement will cover a range of subjects from technology and engineering to health science and business management.”

A key player in the creation of the magnificent Yas Marina F1 circuit and securing the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the gulf state, he says the Arabian Peninsula region will play an increasingly important role in sport in the future.

“The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is just one example of the ambition and potential of the area,” he said. “The UAE will continue to be at the forefront of this ambition, hence the need for expert research and the development of our best young people.”

The collaboration with the university also includes a book, “Sport Management in the Middle East: A Case Study Analysis” which has been co-authored by Bin Sulayem, Sean O’Connor and Dr Hassan. It will be launched at next year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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