Emirates Cricket Board chairman Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan has said that hosting the Indian Premier League has taken the UAE's sporting profile to another level.
The first 20 matches of IPL 7 are being held in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai due to the ongoing elections in India.
Speaking during the Rajasthan Royals' four-wicket win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, Shaikh Nahyan told reporters: "We are honoured to have the first leg of the IPL here. We have a long lasting friendship with India. There is a sizeable community here and cricket is gaining momentum here in UAE.
"We had no doubt that it will be sold out. Tickets sold out within hours of it going online. We are very happy that it has had a good response. It is a great tournament and great league, and so far, it has been good. We hope that there are elections in India every year so that we can host the IPL here!
"We are used to staging world class events here in the UAE. We have the Abu Dhabi Jiu-JItsu World Championship going on at the moment. We had the tennis tournaments. We also held the Under-17 Football World Cup. The UAE is becoming a hub for sport. And we are fortunate to host the IPL in the UAE. We hope we can hold IPL in the UAE in the near future. When we heard that they were looking for a venue, we were very excited. Even the media has been very responsive to the event. So far, it has been running smoothly."
Today's IPL action sees defending champions Mumbai face the Royal Challengers Bangalore, before the Kolkata Knight Riders clash with the Delhi Daredevils.