Less than a month after clinching Al-Anabi Racing’s third NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship in the last four years, key team personnel attended this week’s Doha Goals Forum in Qatar. The Doha Goals Forum is the world’s premier platform for world leaders to advance initiatives for global progress through sport.
Team owner Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani, team manager Alan Johnson, Dubai driver Khalid alBalooshi, and 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon were all in attendance. New general manager Brandon Bernstein was also in Qatar but did not have a role in the Goals Forum. The team presented the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship Trophy to the Qatari Government while in Doha.
The Doha Goals vision statement begins with: “Sport unifies us across borders, cultures, and beliefs. Sport is universal, an international language transcending language, race and religion. Sport offers a level playing field on which everyone is an equal participant. It is inclusive by nature and its fundamental principles make it highly effective in addressing problems of global concern. Doha GOALS (Gathering of All Leaders in Sports) is the world’s premier platform for world leaders to create social initiatives through sport.”
Sheikh Khalid and Johnson participated in Monday’s think tank on the role of private equity in sport. Among the other members of this panel were Christophe Charlier, the director of the Barclays Center and chairman of the Brooklyn Nets NBA team, Patrick Thompson, the head of partnerships for the Dallas Cowboys and Nasser bin Thaloub, the director of the UAE Football Federation as well as several others.
AlBalooshi served as an ambassador for some 400 students in attendance at the Doha Goals Forum while Langdon participated in yesterday’s session focusing on extreme sports and their future – are they about to enter the mainstream and what is their projected growth? The other panelists in Langdon’s session were Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, the president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation who oversees Qatar’s entries in the United States-based H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series named the Spirit of Qatar; Tony Hawk, 12-time world champion skateboarder; Taig Khris, a professional vert skater from Algeria; James Leitz, senior vice president of IMG Worldwide and Chris Sharma, the No. 1 rock climber in the world.
“It was really neat to be on stage with the other guys yesterday,” Langdon said. “To be able to hear their stories about how they got where they are and to hear their versions of what they think about extreme sports was interesting. They all attended Doha Goals for different reasons, so that was interesting, too. “It was a really neat experience to be a part of the whole thing. Doha Goals is a neat program that they’ve put together to help future generations build their lives through sports. They are providing future generations the opportunity to set their goals and dreams, and it was great to be a part of it.
“Qatar reminded me a little of Las Vegas; it’s in the dessert, and the buildings are beautiful and have their own characteristics; everything is first class. It was a great experience all around. It was my first trip outside the United States, and to learn about the Qatari culture and to interact with the Qatari people was a great learning experience. A lot of people in Qatar know about NHRA Drag Racing; we definitely have a following over there. A lot of it is through their racing in Qatar, but they knew everything about the Al-Anabi team. They knew about our championship, and they were very excited for us to win another world championship for them.”
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, the Doha Goals gathering of all leaders in sport, was founded in January 2012. Each year, global leaders gather in Doha with top stakeholders – CEOs, government officials, athletes, NGOs, federation heads, urban developers, coaches, managers, and medical experts – to create partnerships and initiatives to tackle the most pressing social issues through plenary sessions, debates and focused taskforces that enable constructive brainstorming and focused collaboration.
Doha Goals will conclude by outlining a roadmap of initiatives capable of addressing issues like economic development through sport, the welfare of athletes, federation governance, sport as a tool for education of youth, integration of women and minorities through sport, and cross-culture cooperation. For additional information on the Doha Goals Forum, please visit www.dohagoals.com