Founder, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship Chatri Sityodtong, who is in Qatar to take part in the prestigious Qatar Economic Forum, is excited to expand the world’s No. 1 martial arts organisation in the Middle East region.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar Tribune, Sityodtong spoke in detail about his plans for Qatar and the Middle East.
Q: How many times have you participated in Qatar Economic Forum? And what are your thoughts on this year’s forum and the “Business of Sports” panel that you will be taking part in?
This is my second time. The Qatar Economic Forum is one of the most important business and government conferences in the world, and that's why you have leadership from around the world taking part in the Forum. Last year, we announced a partnership with Media City Qatar and the Netflix show “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.” This year, we're very excited to be a part of the “Business of Sports” panel.
Q: You recently filmed the second season of “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition”. Some episodes were filmed in Doha in partnership with Media City Qatar and other big-name regional and global partners. What was the experience of filming in Doha like? And what should fans expect from season two?
ONE Championship wants to help Qatar Media City to expand and grow and truly create a world-class media industry here in Qatar. The media industry in Qatar is still young and developing, but we had a wonderful experience shooting in Qatar. We brought most of our crew from around the world because Qatar didn't have the experience yet to do a production for Netflix. But I think it was a wonderful experience for the cast and crew and we are very grateful for the partnership with Media City Qatar. The show will launch on Netflix around the world later this year.
Q: Having visited Qatar and doing business here, and as an entrepreneur who has done business all over the world, how do you see the sports and media landscape growing in Qatar?
I think there's a huge opportunity for Qatar to establish and build a world-class media industry in the same way Singapore has in the last decade or so. Qatar has entered into global sports and the media industry in a wonderful way by organising FIFA World Cup so successfully. Everywhere I go around the world, I meet people who are blown away by the Qatar World Cup. Everyone says it's the greatest FIFA World Cup in history. It truly created bridges between Qatar and the world and brought new cultures, new understanding, and a lot more respect and love for Qatar from around the world.
Q: Statistics published in the media suggest that ONE and UFC are the two biggest rivals in the global martial arts world. ONE is now a 1.4-billion-dollar company. How has ONE made all of this growth since 2011, and how does it plan to expand?
Today, ONE Championship is broadcast live every Friday to 179 countries worldwide. We have 60 events planned for this year and we're very fortunate that we have over 70 million followers on social media. Fans around the world love our athletes, love our product, and we're truly grateful for the support. Of course, I would love to expand into the Middle East as well. QIA is a shareholder of ONE Championship, and I hope that Qatar and ONE can do big things together not only in the region but around the world.
Q: What are ONE’s plans for the Middle East for 2023 and 2024? Will we see events happening on the ground? Are you planning to have a Middle East or a country-specific Road To ONE?
All I can say for now is that I'm meeting with many business and government leaders, and I'm here for the Qatar Economic Forum, and I hope that our discussions eventually lead to ONE expanding into Qatar. I hope we can announce something very big soon, so please stay tuned. We are coming to the Middle East. Hopefully, we're coming to Qatar later this year. We would love to do Road to ONE and find the very best talent in the Middle East, including Qatar, do a tournament and reality show, and eventually bring the winners into ONE Championship, the biggest stage for martial arts in the world.