The year of 2019 has been busy for sports tourism in the United Arab Emirates, and especially in Abu Dhabi.

The Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon was hosted by the city last weekend, with the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being won by Lewis Hamilton at the start of the month.

The 12th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship will also be coming to the emirate next week. 

Nor is this hectic pace confined to the close of 2019, with the city playing host to as many as three Asian Cup matches earlier in the year, and one of the biggest World Games ever seen in the Special Olympics was also staged by Abu Dhabi.

Athletes from as many as 200 different countries took part, and in March the entire country was filled with spirit and energy, as can be attested to by all spectators, volunteers and participants.

The city has delivered an array of sporting events in 2019, including the T10 cricket league, UFC 242 and the HSBC Golf Championship, in the process showcasing the best aspects of the emirate and highlighting its event-hosting capabilities.

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi received a World Travel Award in November in Muscat on the city’s behalf, being recognised in the category of ‘World’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination’.

Other contenders for that award, which is given to cities that are capable of hosting and staging big events and that have broad sport infrastructure and visitor facilities, included the likes of Auckland, Seoul, Tokyo and London.

Sports tourism is seen as a rapidly expanding market sector all over the world, and the Department of Culture and Tourism also views it as a vital development area for Abu Dhabi, says the executive director of tourism and marketing at the department, Ali Hassan Al Shaiba.

That ambition is reflected in the 2020 calendar, which is equally packed and offers Dubai and Abu Dhabi sports tourists an unusual clash of domestic fixtures.

Friday 27th November 2020 will see the beginning of the Grand Prix, with the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens starting on Thursday 26th November.

Saturday 28th November sees the end of the annual rugby tournament, with the next day being the F1 race.

The tournaments have been heading for a clash for a number of years, with the traditional time for the Dubai Sevens being around the National Day weekend in the UAE, and the F1 calendar pushing further toward the end of November.

Another special event will get underway in October 2020 in the form of the Expo 2020 Dubai, which is expected to bring approximately 25 million visitors to the UAE for around six months.

The cruise ship season has been expanding in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and record numbers of tourists are electing to come to the UAE.

Anyone who comes to the UAE for sports tourism or any other reason should take out some form of travel insurance coverage beforehand.

Travel insurance prevents financial hardship in the event of unexpected occurrences such as lost luggage or cancelled flights.


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