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How The United Arab Emirates Are Embracing And Changing The Sporting World











Over the last few years, the United Arab Emirates has grown to become one of the most influential players in the sporting world. From hosting events to owning trophy-winning football clubs, the region's embracing of sport has been unquestionably apparent. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the UAE's impact on contemporary sports.

Tournament Hosting

Over the last few years, the number of sporting events that have taken place within the UAE has risen. Despite much of the region's sporting news residing around the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the country has, in recent years, hosted some of the most highly-anticipated fights in mixed martial art, as well as its first multi-sport Olympic event.

Back in September 2019, the Ultimate Fighting Championship made their first visit to Abu Dhabi since April 2014, when Antonio Nogueira faced Roy Nelson. The MMA promotion opted to take their reigning lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, to The Arena on Yas Island to compete for the belt against Dustin Poirier. This decision was beneficial to both the UFC and Abu Dhabi as it highlighted the desire to both host and bring highly-anticipated bouts to the UAE, which is testament to the country's continued embrace of broadening their role in the global sporting world.

Aside from UFC 242, Abu Dhabi also played host to the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. In nature, the event is undeniably different from top-level mixed martial arts, but it does highlight the diverse nature of, in particular, Abu Dhabi's growing determination to be a focal point of world sports. Additionally, Dubai is placing itself at the very core of modern-day football issues in seeking to instigate change, having hosted the 14th Dubai International Sports Conference to discuss the future of women's football.

Embracing Global Business Opportunities

In addition to seeking to host vaster numbers of events, Abu Dhabi-based corporations have also sought to create a global brand and raise the profile of sports in the UAE through football club ownership.

Backed by Sheikh Mansour, the Abu Dhabi United Group completed the takeover of Manchester City back in 2009. While English football's most successful club of the last decade may be the most well-known in the City Football Group's portfolio, they have continued to further extend their influence on world football in recent years. In 2019, the group purchased third-tier Chinese side, Sichuan Jiuniu, which, as a result, now sees them based, across all of their clubs, in Australia, China, England, Japan, Spain, the United States, and Uruguay.

From a sporting standpoint, not only has Sheikh Mansour provided sustained financial backing which has enabled City to compete, but his business model has also somewhat revolutionised football. Throughout the years, he, along with the club's hierarchy, have modernised the six-time English champion's facilities, creating the foundations for long-term success. However, the Citizens look highly unlikely to win a third league title in a row with Liverpool heavily favoured to obtain their first title in the Premier League era amongst bookmakers in the UAE.

A Bright Sporting Future Awaits

Ultimately, it seems clear that the outlook of sports in the United Arab Emirates is only heading in one direction. Having made significant strides regarding hosting world-renowned events, in addition to seeking to be the catalyst for change in women's football, there can be no doubts that the UAE's impact on sports will only continue to grow in the coming years.

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