This article was produced in association with Abu Dhabi Sports Council
With an unrivalled range of sports venues offering a standard of excellence that is unmatched in the region and beyond, Abu Dhabi serves as an irresistible draw to an increasing number of sports clubs, federations and organisations every year.
To illustrate the versatility of the Emirate, the Zayed Sports City alone will host major football, tennis, ice hockey and a Special Olympics test event before the end of March 2018, with an extraordinary portfolio of facilities providing the perfect destination for all sports.
The multi-purpose complex will stage the IIHF Ice Hockey Team Girls Game this autumn, before hosting the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 and the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December.
However, basketball, billiards, bowling, combat sports, fitness, netball and rugby are just some of the other sports that are regularly hosted at Zayed Sports City, which actually features on the AED200 banknote.
Zayed Sports City, though, is by no means the only venue for elite sports in Abu Dhabi.
A short 15-minute drive from the complex is the 20,000-seat Zayed Cricket Stadium, which opened in 2004. This autumn, the stadium will host the Pakistan v Sri Lanka cricket series under a long-standing partnership with the Pakistan Cricket Board. It is also home of Abu Dhabi Cricket which has recently started to expand its sports offer with 2 FIFA approved football training pitches for the community and visiting teams.
The 22,700-seat Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, located in the eastern city of Al Ain, and the 12,000-capacity Al-Nahyan Stadium also provide pitch-perfect platforms for visiting football clubs, with the former offering cricket facilities as well.
Few settings as spectacular
In recent years, Abu Dhabi has become a regular and popular destination on the calendars of golf’s leading tours and it is easy to see why. There are few settings as spectacular in world sport as the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, which was designed by golf legend Gary Player as the Arabian Gulf’s first beachfront course and will host the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open this November, launched in 2016 as the first ever professional ladies’ golf tournament in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile Abu Dhabi Golf Club, host to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and renowned as one of the most luxurious resorts in the world, is located only 15 minutes from the city centre and just 10 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, with seven saltwater lakes and pockets of palms it is a picturesque environment.
The Kyle Phillips designed Yas Links is rated as one of the Top 50 golf courses in the world by Golf Digest, whilst the 18-hole course and nine-hole academy course at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, also provides state-of-the-art facilities for basketball, climbing, cricket, rugby and shooting.
Moreover, a variety of sports facilities are available at the Emirates Palace and Al Forsan International Sports Resort, and the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi complex.
With floodlit tennis courts, football pitches, a cricket pitch, beach volleyball and water sports activities available, the Emirates Palace provides a range of activities amongst 100 hectares of luscious gardens and lawns along 1.3km of coastline. It has hosted major international rugby, cricket, polo and open water swimming events.
Al Forsan International Sports Resort is a prime location for water sports, motorsports and equestrianism, while the nearby Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi city-resort boasts tennis, swimming and squash facilities.
For cyclists, Al Wathba, located 40 minutes by car from the UAE capital, offers an unmissable opportunity to ride through the desert for professionals and amateurs alike.
However, it is worth remembering that Abu Dhabi’s venues regularly host sport’s biggest events, as well as providing pristine facilities that are used by the general population and visiting sports clubs on a year-round basis.
The Yas Marina Circuit – one of the most technologically-advanced tracks in the world – has amassed a sterling reputation in motorsport, having been the home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. On Tuesdays though, you will find locals and tourists cycle or run around the track as part of TrainYas community nights.
This year, Abu Dhabi is scheduled to host the final race of the F1 season, giving the series a fitting finale in an Emirate that combines an outstanding quality and range of sports venues with a burning passion for welcoming the world.