Basketball legend O’Neal reveals plans to buy real estate in Abu Dhabi

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Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal with WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion boxer Dmitry Bivol.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

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.


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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.”

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.”

Running concurrently with the NBA Abu Dhabi Games, organisers have set up an “NBA District” at Manarat Al Saadiyat for a five-day celebration of NBA and popular culture between October 5 and 9. Fans will have the chance to grab photo opportunities with NBA legends and memorabilia including the Larry O’Brien Trophy, as well as test their abilities across a range of fun basketball challenges, including the “NBA Ice Buckets” beat-the-buzzer competition. Other activations at the interactive event include the chance to customise a basketball, win sneakers, and quiz some of the game’s legendary players.

 

 

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