Emirates Palace plays host to sporting elite

Emirates Palace plays host to sporting elite

Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace was the centre of the sporting world as it played host to the Laureus Sports Awards for the second year in succession. Rafael Nadal and the Spanish national soccer team took home top honours at the star-studded bash.

Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman were among the many A-listers who attended the show at Emirates Palace, which was voted “World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel” at 2010 World Travel Awards.

Other guests included British five times Olympic gold medalist Steve Redgrave, German tennis ace Boris Becker and South African golfing hero Gary Player. As well as the actual awards ceremony, Player hosted a Golf Challenge at his Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

Majorca-based Nadal, who won three Grand Slam tennis titles in 2010, picked up the Laureus Sports Award. He beat fellow countryman Andrés Iniesta, who scored Spain’s winning goal in Fifa World Cup final, as well as Kobe Bryant, whose Los Angeles Lakers won a second-straight NBA championship, and Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. Argentine player Lionel Messi were also in the running.

(Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman arrives in style)

Spanish Fifa World Cup champions, who beat the Netherlands in South Africa last year, walked off with the team prize. The victory came two years after Spain won the European Championship.

Host Kevin Spacey enjoyed a spot of table tennis with the Wimbledon champion Nadal as part of the show. Entertainment was provided by Irish pop star Ronan Keating.

Lindsey Vonn, the gold medalist in the women’s downhill at the Vancouver Olympics and winner of a third consecutive overall World Cup title, took the sportswoman’s award.

(The magnificent Emirates Palace was voted “World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel” at 2010 World Travel Awards)

She beat high jumper Blanka Vlasic and tennis players Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki.

French soccer great Zinedine Zidane won the lifetime achievement award and American surfer Kelly Slater was the action sportsperson of the year.

The winners are chosen by 46 sports stars who make up the Laureus sports academy.

Proceeds from the awards ceremony benefit the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 83 community sports projects around the world.

Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabic hospitality and mystique where a mixture of culture and tradition come together against a backdrop of the most modern world-class infrastructure.

Abu Dhabi is developing a reputation as a great sporting venue as host city for the FIFA Club World Cup, the Etihad Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, all highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.

The emirate also took part in the inaugural WSDE Sport Tourism Expo which was hosted in Johannesburg in the final week of the Fifa World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority was voted “World’s Leading Tourist Board” at 2010 World Travel Awards Grand Final in London. This follows a clean sweep at the WTA Middle East Ceremony in May when it was voted “Middle East’s Leading Business Destination”, “Middle East’s Leading Destination”, “Middle East’s Leading Destination Marketing Campaign”, “Middle East’s Leading Marina” and “Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board”.