Case Study: The State of Squash in Dubai

Falcon & Associates

Falcon and Associates is an independent strategic advisory and implementation company which delivers initiatives to help with the long-term strategic positioning of Dubai as part of the UAE by partnering with businesses and government departments to deliver specific social, economic and trade-related goals.

Dubai continues to grow in stature on the world sports stage becoming an iconic venue for global sports events. This was further highlighted by the announcement from The Professional Squash Association (PSA) to award Dubai with the World Series Finals, the most prestigious event of the series, for the next three years, an agreement facilitated by Falcon and Associates.

The Brief

To prepare for these events, Falcon and Associates commissioned YouGov to gain a better understanding of the squash landscape in Dubai, from grassroots to elite level, to support their PR and marketing strategy for the sport. They not only needed the hard facts about the number of squash players, coaches, facilities, leagues and competitions, but a deep understanding of people’s attitudes and behaviours towards the sport, the communications channels used to engage with it, as well as its future outlook, key drivers and barriers to growth specifically in Dubai.

Our Study

YouGov conducted a three-stage approach to examine the state of squash in Dubai, adopting a multi-method solution combining online and offline methodologies including desk, qualitative and quantitative research. Importantly at the core of that approach we utilised our panel to conduct a quantitative online survey, from which we were also able to identify respondents who were actively participating in or interested in the niche sport to perform the qualitative research.

Firstly, to understand the full history and current state of squash in the Emirate, YouGov performed desk research utilising publically available information, contacting key stakeholders involved with the sport and visiting a number of squash venues across Dubai.

In order to measure the interest, participation, ability levels, playing locations and preferred means by which to follow and engage with squash, we then interviewed 1,372 respondents from our panel representing the general population in Dubai via an online quantitative survey.

To understand who plays squash in Dubai and what their behaviours and attitudes are towards the sport, together with further delving into the communications channels used to engage with it, we conducted two qualitative online bulletin boards in English and Arabic amongst 29 squash players living in the Emirate. Three individual face-to-face in-depth interviews with Dubai-based squash coaches were also conducted to gain an expert perspective on the state of squash and the future outlook of the sport.

The Results

The results allowed Falcon and Associates to gain a comprehensive understanding of the state of squash in Dubai and the unique challenges facing the sport in the country today. By fully engaging with a broad cross-section of the population that inhabits the Emirate, in just one week we were able to highlight the level of grass roots participation with various amateur squash tournaments, the number of world class coaches and the facilities available to play squash.

The study opened the door for the company to get ‘up close and personal’ with squash players to understand who they are, what they are like, where they play and what they get out of the sport both on a physical and emotional level. It also allowed them to gain a cognizant view of the future outlook for the sport, reveal areas of opportunity and potential ways to overcome challenges.

Fundamentally, Falcon and Associates were able to enhance their PR and marketing promotions with a fully informed view of their target audience and the circumstances under which they do or don’t engage with the sport. Using YouGov research, Dubai successfully hosted a sell-out PSA World Series Final in May 2016 at Burj Park, Dubai.