ALL PART OF THE GAME

Abu Dhabi 2016 | SPORTS | PHOTO ESSAY: SPORTING EVENTS

Another strand to the economic development of the Emirate is to enhance sporting events—this boosts the tourism sector and places Abu Dhabi as a genuine destination for global events to be held.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) have worked toward bringing international-class sporting events to the Emirate. The UAE's capital has recognized a gap in the market and has been developing the infrastructure to attract and accommodate large sporting events.

The largest of these events is the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the inaugural race held in November 2009. It is the most prominent sporting event that is hosted in the UAE and will bring global attention to Abu Dhabi. It is a proven boost for tourism—occupancy for the 2015 race was over 90%, with

average daily rates (ADR) at AED738 and RevPAR (revenue per available room) at AED619. There is some interlinked brand-building at play, as Etihad sponsors the annual event, whose sponsorship has been extended to Manchester City, signalling that the policy directors of the Emirate see the commercial value within sport.

The Red Bull Air Race combines entertainment and sport over the two-day event, which takes place along the Island's corniche. This works in tandem with the development of Abu Dhabi as an aerospace oraeronautical hub—a vision led by the Emirates Airline and key companies such as Strata operating from the Nibras Al Ain Aerospace Park. The event coincides with Abu Dhabi Aviation Week, which will see the Global Aerospace Summit at ADNEC, tempting sector enthusiasts to extend their stay and providing corporate entertainment in the build up to a week of business; a shrewd move to capitalise on an industry that contributes 15% to GDP, which equates to $46 billion according to the General Civil Aviation Authority.

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship features one of the strongest annual fields in world golf—Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, and Martin Kaymer were at the 2016 event i

n January, while the annual Mubadala World Tennis Championship witnessed Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, and Jo Wifred-Tsonga. The cadre of world class athletes who compete on these shores prove that Abu Dhabi has the facilities, the hospitality, and appeal to be viewed as a true sports destination.