This article was produced in association with Abu Dhabi Sports Council
Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a warm weather training destination for professional sports teams and individual athletes grows by the year.
The combination of climate and accessibility means that the Emirate provides a convenient and attractive option for European teams coming out of their winter breaks as well as those whose seasons begin in Spring.
But, explains Barry Bremner, General Manager of Zayed Sports City which houses a range of world class sports facilities, the clientele is by no means restricted to Europe.
“While teams like Spartak Moscow are here every year to prepare for their season, we have also welcomed the Ivory Coast national team and teams from Korea, the United States and Australia,” he said.
“In fact, the demand is so great that we work with other facilities in Abu Dhabi to ensure that demand can be met.”
Levels of service
Clearly it is not only climate and convenience which fuels that global demand and Bremner, who has been at Zayed Sports City since 2009, says that the quality of sports facilities, hotels and the levels of service on offer are all vital components of the offer.
“For visiting teams we offer something special,” Bremner said.
“There are 17 world class grass pitches and two state-of-the art artificial surfaces and those facilities are supported by a sports hospital, gym, technical analysis facilities and excellent hotels which are a walk away – all in all everything a team needs to form a base for training and bonding,” he said.
Zayed Sports City was created by the UAE’s Founding Father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and was driven by his vision for the role of sport in the future of the country.
It opened back in 1980 and has continued to develop ever since.
Today Zayed Sports City houses not only the 42,000 seat Zayed Sports City Stadium, which will host the final of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE in December, but the International Tennis Centre – home of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship – an international ice rink and the Khalifa International Bowling Centre which has 40 lanes and has hosted the world championships. The facilities are not just a key part of Abu Dhabi’s global sports offering but an essential part of life for the local population.
“The majority of activity here is community based and around 70 per cent of our income comes from community based activity. We stage a wide range of events from the Harlem Globetrotters to WWE and Monster Jam as well, of course, as international football team games,” Bremner said.
“What makes Zayed Sports City special is its continuing evolution. Nothing stands still and facilities are constantly being upgraded and improved and that has created a real sports hub both for local people and the international teams and players who visit to train here.”
The Abu Dhabi training experience was summed up by Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City during a camp based at the Emirates Palace where world class sports facilities are combined with the opulence of an outstanding hotel.
“The trip to Abu Dhabi gave us the chance to get away and do things a little differently,” he said.
“The facilities out here are outstanding. To have everything on one site in this way is invaluable and the hotel is of the highest standard. The staff embraced the team bond and all those who work for the club and that is a huge plus in making the trip as seamless as possible,” he said.
IMAGE: Manchester City train in Abu Dhabi (Getty Images)