Minister of Economy and Finance Youssef Hussein Kamal inaugurated today ASPIRE4SPORT 2012, the Middle East’s leading sports business congress and exhibition, at Aspire Dome, Doha. HE the Minister of Economy and Finance, who toured the expo hosting more than 170 exhibitors showcasing the latest in sports services and products said: “Sports has become a great driver of the global economy and Qatar is a growing focus for international investors in this area.” The number of exhibitors had seen 45 percent increase from the previous edition of ASPIRE4SPORT, with dozens of meetings arranged between global sports organisations and key stakeholders including Aspire Zone Foundation, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, Qatar Olympic Committee, Qatar Foundation and Katara through the Congress’ business networking tool. “This is a great event with a strong international reputation, and we hope through it to create awareness of our company, products and services. In addition, we wish to meet international companies to develop close working relationships,” said Ben Aguba, Division Supervisor, Khalid Scientific Company W.L.L. The inaugural day also saw a trio of sports legends gathering for the first of the daily “Stars Chats” sessions; Dikembe Mutombo, NBA legend, Anthony Joshua, boxing Olympic gold medalist, and Dean Stoneman, F2 World Champion. Mutombo, widely regarded as one of the best defense players to ever play the game, provided a detailed account on his rise in the basketball world. Orginially enrolled at Georgetown University to study medicine, the 7 ft 2 retired athlete explained how he used sport as a platform to help others by building a 40million dollar hospital in his hometown of Kinshasha, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Anthony Joshua, the young super-heavyweight amateur boxer from the United Kingdom spoke passionately about his desire to succeed. He cited determination as one of the key disciplines needed to be a great sportsman stating, “Never stop digging for gold because you never know when you’re going to hit that mine.” Stoneman described how following his FIA F2 Championship win in 2010, he went from being on top of the world to the lowest point in his life after being diagnosed with cancer. He has since made a recovery and is raising awareness of the disease through his status as a sports star. Tickets for the El Clasico match between legends of the top Spanish rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid were put on sale between 3.00pm and 7.00pm when the ASPIRE4SPORT Exhibition is also open to the public for free. The tickets will continue to be on sale until the match or until sold out. The first of three forums, the Congress began with ASPIRE MED which included a call from UAE Sports Medicine Committee to give all athletes pre-participation ecocardiograms (ECGS). “Pre-participation screening that includes ECGs can prevent up to 90% of sudden cardiac deaths on the field,” said Dr. Abdelhameed Al Attar, Chairman of the UAE Sports Medicine Committee, part of the Emirati Olympic Committee. “Many practitioners think these deaths occur too rarely to justify pre-screening; however, earlier reports are based on media stories and insurance company reports,” explained Al Attar, adding that more scientific data collection had revealed higher incidences of sudden cardiac deaths among performing athletes that had not caught the public eye. Speaking alongside Al Attar was Dr. Othman Salah, Cardiologist at Aspetar Orthopeadic and Sports Medicine Hospital, who presented the findings of the screening of 5,200 athletes from across the GCC in the widest effort undertaken yet in the Middle East and Africa to understand sudden cardiac deaths among athletes. “Most African athletes had never been examined by a doctor before, and Aspetar, in its research, provided a front line service to them,” said Dr. Salah.