Shaquille O’Neal enjoys first visit to the city as ambassador for the historic NBA Abu Dhabi
Games, admitting: ‘I want to see everything and go everywhere’
Four-time NBA champion met with WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion boxer Dmitry Bivol who is in town preparing for title fight with Gilberto Ramirez at Etihad Arena on November 5
UAE, Abu Dhabi: 08 October 2022 – Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has only been in Abu Dhabi a few days, yet he is already making friends – and long-term plans. As an ambassador for this week’s NBA Abu Dhabi Games, the former Orlando Magic and LA Lakers star is visiting the UAE capital for the first time and is clearly impressed by what the city has to offer revealing he is considering laying down roots. Taking a break between his duties around the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks games at Etihad Arena, “Shaq” also met with Dmitry Bivol, the WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion, who is training in the emirate ahead of his title fight at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena against undefeated Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez on November 5. Speaking after receiving a warm welcome in which he visited the Arabian desert and was treated to a traditional Emirati cultural performance of drums and falcons as well as introduced to a camel draped in an oversized purple and yellow No34 LA Lakers jersey, Shaq was clearly impressed. “It’s a great honour to be here,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place. It’s my second time in this part of the world and this place is fabulous: The beach, the water, the real estate, the people have been very hospitable. Kudos to the NBA for coming and kudos to Abu Dhabi for hosting us. It’s a big thing.” On Thursday night, after being introduced to a raucous, sold-out crowd, the four-time NBA Champion watched from the side-lines as the Atlanta Hawks secured a 123-113 victory over the Bucks. He will host the NBA’s official party on Friday, before returning to the Yas Island venue for game two on Saturday evening.
Yet he has more plans still, including a trip to the first Ferrari-branded theme park. And if the 7”1’ superstar runs out of time on this trip, he has already even started making contingency plans. “I want to go to Ferrari World, and I want to go to the desert,” he said. “I went to my friend’s house yesterday – he has the best car collection I’ve ever seen. I just want to see everything and everywhere. And I’m also looking at some real estate because I’d like to live here.”