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Breaking Travel News investigates: Sports tourism takes centre stage in Abu Dhabi
F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton prepares for the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Breaking Travel News investigates: Sports tourism takes centre stage in Abu Dhabi

Sports tourism has taken a front seat in Abu Dhabi this weekend as the emirate prepares to host the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season.

World champion Lewis Hamilton is on pole for Mercedes, looking to complete a successful season for himself and the team.

Wrapping up a sixth championship earlier this year, the British driver is now just one short of the record held by German Michael Schumacher.

Abu Dhabi, too, is celebrating a successful few weeks, having been recognised as the World’s Leading Sports Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards for the seventh straight year.

The title was revealed on Thursday during the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2019, hosted on this occasion at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, capital of the sultanate of Oman.

W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island opened ahead of the Grand Prix weekend

The F1 Grand Prix will be returning to the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island - home to the best racing in the United Arab Emirates.

Considered one of the most technically challenging courses on the race calendar, the facility is home to the W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island, which reopened in November.

Located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s bustling entertainment epicentre, the hotel is the brand’s second W Hotel to open this year in the United Arab Emirates after W Dubai – the Palm, and has the bragging rights to be the only hotel in the world located atop a Grand Prix racetrack.

W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island is surrounded by iconic landmarks, located just 15-minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport at the doorstep of the famed Yas Marina.

The hotel is also in close proximity to Ferrari World, Warner Brothers Studios and Abu Dhabi’s biggest shopping centre, the Yas Mall.

During the weekend, an enviable musical line-up, featuring Lana Del Ray, the Killers and Gucci Mane will add some international flair to sports entertainment. 

Clymb Abu Dhabi is the latest addition to a growing sector

Clymb Abu Dhabi also opened its doors on Yas Island this weekend, becoming the ultimate adventure venue.

A fully indoor facility, its geometrically-designed building houses the world’s biggest indoor skydiving flight chamber and world’s tallest indoor climbing wall under one roof.

Whether a first-time flyer – as young as three years of age – or an expert skydiver, Clymb Abu Dhabi’s flight instructors will ensure a fun and safe experience, suitable for all.

Clymb Abu Dhabi will also offer unique climbing experiences to its guests of all competency levels.

Beginners can enjoy various wall options to suit their preference and climbing level, while more advanced climbers can push their limits at ‘the Summyt’, the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall, towering 43 meters high.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, has been instrumental in building the sports tourism sector in the emirate

Among the other international sports events hosted in Abu Dhabi this year was the AFC Asian Cup.

The 17th edition of the quadrennial international men’s football championship, the cup welcomed 24 teams to the emirate from January 5th to February 1st.

Under a new format, the finalists contested a group stage consisting of six groups of four teams, followed by a knockout stage of 16 teams.

The tournament was won for the first time by Qatar, who defeated Japan 3–1 in the final.

The AFC Asian Cup follows Abu Dhabi’s successful hosting of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2018.

The tournament was hosted in December last year, with Real Madrid successfully defending their title for the third straight year.

The Spanish giants defeated Al-Ain 4–1 in the final, which was hosted at 43,000-seat Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Nabeel M al Zarouni, regional promotion manager, Middle East & Africa, at Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, celebrates at the World Travel Awards

Another highlight was the Special Olympics World Games, hosted by Abu Dhabi in March.

Visiting the Middle East for the first time since the movement’s founding over 50 years ago, the event was designed to promote positive social change for people with intellectual disabilities and create a more inclusive society.

The event was under the patronage of sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose leadership and vision have been instrumental in bringing together public and private sector partners to be a part of this worthy cause.

Over 7,000 athletes from over 170 countries competed in a series of sports, as well as a variety of initiatives and activities held across the seven Emirates.

World Golf Awards headed to the Middle East for the first time

Golf has also seen its popularity grow in Abu Dhabi in recent years, with the World Golf Awards recently hosting its annual Gala Ceremony at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort.

Golfing icon, Colin Montgomerie, scooped top honours at the event.

The Ryder Cup-legend was named Golf Course Designer of the Year at the golf tourism industry’s event of the year in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

He was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to golf.

Hosted in the Middle East for the first time, the sixth annual World Golf Awards proved a truly global gathering of the golf tourism industry, with pioneers, influencers and leading figureheads from across the world in attendance.

The prize-giving ceremony marked the climax of a three-day itinerary that included golf at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

At the ceremony, St. Regis Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, took the title of Middle East’s Best Golf Hotel, while Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa was honoured with the title of Abu Dhabi’s Best Golf Hotel.

At the same time, Abu Dhabi Golf Club walked away with the trophy for United Arab Emirates’ Best Golf Course.

Abu Dhabi is considered the World’s Leading Sports Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards

Finally, Abu Dhabi also hosted international delegations from different continents as they participated in the Ju-Jitsu World Championship last month.

Organised by the Ju-Jitsu International Federation, the event was hosted by the United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation for juniors, youth and adults.

This extraordinary event was entrusted to Abu Dhabi, the capital of Jiu-Jitsu, after unprecedented successes achieved in the development of the sport, qualifying heroes and championships and organising major international tournaments on an annual basis (Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour).

Abu Dhabi

Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike.

The authority manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment.

Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

The authority supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage.

A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.

Find out more on the official website, or take a look at a list of some of the biggest upcoming sporting events in Abu Dhabi here.

Headline image: Hoch Zwei/DPA/PA Images