One of the best ‘collateral’ effects of living in Abu Dhabi is that the gorgeous weather really makes you feel on holiday all year long. We always do sports more when we are on holiday, so we felt more pushed to do so here. Must be something to do with the sun!
Also, we really want to be ready for the beach, and what is better than having fun and slimming down at the same time?
Abu Dhabi has an amazing variety of sporting venues to choose from. Our favourite, however, is probably Zayed Sports City, a massive complex including a bowling alley, beach volley courts, tennis courts, a huge stadium, an ice rink, a gym, as well as football, rugby, volleyball and softball training fields. It is truly impressive, also from an architectural point of view.
To meet new sporty friends, the website Duplays is a good place from where to start, but of course there are plenty of other ways to meet new friends to play sports with.
Below are some of our sport ideas so far (more to come!), but please let us know if you have any suggestions or corrections!
(Last Update: September 2013)
The Abu Dhabi WildCats are the champions of the 2012-2013 Emirates American Football League. To see if there is a chance to be part of this winning squad, their head coach need to be contacted for more information.
For more casual matches, Zayed Sports City has five pitches, fully lit for evening games.
If looking for people to play with, this very friendly Meetup group meets on Mondays to play on the pitches available on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Legolas, Arrow, Katniss… archery seems to be a favourite of films and television, lately!
The website of the Abu Dhabi Archery Community (also on Facebook) is a great place where to find information and news about upcoming competitions and events, as well as the list of the main archery ranges in the region.
In Abu Dhabi, the Al Forsan Archery Centre offers its ranges to beginners as well as experts. (We tried!)
The Abu Dhabi Smashers is a badminton club organizing events and tournaments.
The Club has an indoor badminton court available for its members.
Badminton players also meet on Duplays.
Zayed Sports City has three outdoor hard surface courts.
MPAC Academy offers a range of basketball classes from beginners to professionals, and organizes leagues and tournaments.
Basketball tournaments are also available on Duplays.
The Abu Dhabi Country Club has an outdoor basketball court available to its members.
In a city where it’s always summer and long sandy beaches are the norm, we don’t really need much more than a ball and a group of friends to play beach volley! If we want a serious match, however, at Zayed Sports City there are several beach volley courts.
If we are looking for people to play with, this very friendly Meetup group meets on Mondays to play on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
This Facebook group also meets on the Corniche, but on Saturday mornings.
Of course volleyball is also popular on Duplays.
Everyone likes a game of bowling! I must admit it though – I (Lau) am rubbish at it. Most probably worrying about my manicure does not help, but surely I have plenty of chances to practice in Abu Dhabi.
So far we tried the Emirates Bowling Village, on the second lower grand floor at Marina Mall [15 AED per game per person (including shoes)] and the 40-lanes strong Khalifa International Bowling Centre, part of the Zayed Sports City complex [12 AED per game per person (including shoes)].
(all prices correct July 2013)
Both venues have food available and a range of other entertainment options, such as billiards and arcade games.
Bowling alleys are also available at Bowling City-Khalidiya Mall, and Bowling City-Al Mariah Mall.
The Sheikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium, considered one of the best cricket stadiums in the world, has a capacity of 20,000, and it has hosted a variety of international and domestic games. It is home to the Abu Dhabi Cricket Club, (also on Facebook) which organizes tournaments and offers to its members access to the grounds, cricket lessons, and free or discounted entry to all events happening in the stadium.
There are several crickets clubs based in Abu Dhabi, that can be contacted for more information, such as the Colombo Lions Cricket Club.
If we are looking for a quiet area of the city where to cycle in all safety, the traffic-free roads inside Zayed Sports City are probably our first choice.
If we fancy a different setting, Noukhada Adventure Company is at the Formula One circuit on Tuesday evenings, so we can rent the bikes and helmet from them, or bring our own. More info on this kind of events also on the Yas Marina Circuit Facebook page.
The Facebook group Abu Dhabi Cycling gives information and updates about events and offers for bike fans, whilst on this useful website we found maps suggesting four different cycling routes in Abu Dhabi.
For those who prefer spinning classes and indoor cycling, The Cycling Room has also just opened inside Zayed Sports City.
The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is home of horse racing in the city, however they also have a riding school, with instructors at all levels.
The Al Forsan Sports Resort features an Equestrian centre with a polo field, indoors and outdoors arena, jumping fields and stables, offering also both kids and adults riding lessons. Other equestrian clubs are the Dhabian Equestrian Club, which offers special Friday morning beach rides to groups of at least four expert riders (for more info email firstname.lastname@example.org), the Al Bahiya Equestrian Club, and the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, which offers a wide range of world-class polo and equestrian facilities.
The capital also hosts the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition.
The Abu Dhabi Striders are a group of runners of all abilities, and this club hosts runs, a half marathon and a cross country run, as well as many other events, and then donates all proceedings to charity. Anyone is welcome to join.
Following the Yas Marina Circuit Facebook page, we also found out that you can run around the circuit on special Tuesday evenings.
For running, jogging and walking, the grounds of Zayed Sports City are great too, as there is no traffic and plenty of other sporty people around. There is also a skate park for roller-blades and skateboards fans.
The Abu Dhabi Country Club has an outdoor jogging track available to its members.
If we need new ideas about where to go, this website offers maps and routes for running, jogging and walking around Abu Dhabi, and we can even add our own itineraries to their database.
As gyms go, in the city pretty much every apartment building has its own free and private resident gym, but if we fancy a change of scenario there are a tons of gyms all over the city, inside the main shopping malls and most of the bigger hotels.
To play the ‘most popular sport in the world’, we can head to Zayed Sports City and its 14 multipurpose football pitches, available in a range of sizes and lit at night for evening matches, but there are football pitches also on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, a focal meeting point for sporty people around the city. The Al Ghazal Golf club also offers pitch booking, having 2 multi-courts that can be used for 5-a side football.
Another place where to book an indoor or outdoor pitch is The Dome, a community facility specifically dedicated to football, and home to The Reem Team, a women football team where ladies are welcome to join.
Duplays organizes both an outdoor 7-a side football league and an indoor 5-a side league, whilst on Facebook the Abu Dhabi Expat Football group organizes 7-a side and 11-a side games.
The Club has a 5-a side tournament for its members, every Monday evening.
The Abu Dhabi Country Club also has 3 football fields available to its members, as well as a football academy for kids until 16yo.
Frisbee fans have plenty of green spaces where to practice their favourite sports, like this group on Duplays, which meets every Sunday night.
Golf is undoubtedly a very popular sport in Abu Dhabi, as the city hosts world class tournaments such as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
There are many golf clubs around the city, such as the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, the Al Ghazal Golf Club, the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links, where we tried the ‘Learn Golf in a Week’ course.
This Hiking Meetup Group organizes trips in the region and abroad for all those who like a good walk in the nature.
Ice hockey is one of those sports that I would not have expected to flourish on this side of the world, but of course Abu Dhabi has its very own team! The Abu Dhabi Storms, both with their male and female teams, regularly compete in local and overseas tournaments, and as I (Lau) am a big hockey fan, I could not be happier. If one day I will gather enough courage to try and do more than just sit in the audience and cheer, I have been told that I can contact them through their Facebook Page or call the club on 02-4445552 from Sunday to Wednesday (office hours) for more info about how to join the team.
The Zayed Sports City Ice Rink is not only for ice hockey matches, but also for all the ice-related sports we can think of. From simple ice skating lessons to figure skating, this is a great place where to get started.
For more casual fun, we also like to go to the ice rink in Marina Mall.
It is easy to imagine how in the city that every year hosts the Formula1 Grand Prix, fans of motor sports have their agenda full all year long.
At the Yas Marina Circuit, the very place where international stars fight for the lead, a wide range of activities are available, such as karting, drifting and driving a number of different and exciting cars. We can experience the speed both as drivers or as passengers, depending on which sport package we choose.
The Al Forsan Sports Resort has also a kart circuit, an off-road circuit, and an alternative circuit, used for activities such as drifting or autocross in a number of different cars.
The United Arab Emirates Rugby Federation website is a great source of info and news.
The Abu Dhabi Saracens are a rugby team based in the capital. Another local team, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club, trains on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7pm at Zayed Sports City, so those who feel like they could be a good addition to the team can contact their head coach for more information.
Zayed Sports City offers its rugby pitches to both professionals and casual players.
On the Facebook page of the Abu Dhabi Table Tennis Association we can find news about tournaments and information.
Inside the Khalifa International Bowling Centre, part of the Zayed Sports City complex, there is an entire room dedicated to this sport. It can be rented completely, for a mega-tournament, or you can rent a single table.
Playing tennis in Abu Dhabi is very easy, as there are many tennis courts all around the city. Abu Dhabi is also the host of the Mubadala World Championship, where this year (2013) we will see ‘our’ Andy Murray fighting for the top spot.
The International Tennis Centre, part of the Zayed Sports City complex, is home to nine outdoor hard surface courts, two 500 seat galleries and a 5,000 seat tennis stadium. The courts are available for both pre-bookings and walk-ins.
Many hotels, as well as sports and members clubs, also feature tennis courts amongst their facilities, such as The Club, the Rotana Beach Club, the Al Ghazal Golf Club, and the Abu Dhabi Country Club.
The Abu Dhabi Corniche beach is the first in the Arabic Gulf to achieve the Blue Flag certification for the great quality of its water and facilities, and living near such beautiful sea has many perks, one of which is the great variety of water activities available.
Actually, I would probably need a separate blog just to list all the water sports that can be done in Abu Dhabi!
Just to mention a few, we can try our hand at flyboarding (Flyboards UAE – which we actually tried), kayaking (Al Raha Beach Hotel, Ananantara Mangroves Hotel, The Club, Noukhada Adventure Company, Watercooled), wakeboarding (Wakeboarding UAE, Al Forsan Sports Resort, Wakeboarding Abu Dhabi-Dubai, Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club), windsurfing (Watercooled), sailing (Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, The Club, Noukhada Adventure Company, Coastal Sea School, Ananantara Mangroves Hotel, Al Bandar Sailing School), waterskiing (Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club) diving (The Club, Freediving) … and the list could go on and on!
The Capital Dragon Boating Team is set to compete in the Shangri-La Abu Dhabi Dragon Boating Festival in October 2013: they practice three times a week and are currently looking for new members.
If we fancy relaxing in a beach club, the city has plenty of them: the Montecarlo Beach Club, the Hilton Beach Club, Yas Beach and the Rotana Beach Club only to mention a few.
If we just want to swim in a pool, pretty much every building in Abu Dhabi has its own private and free residents pool, but around the city there are plenty of pools, inside every hotel and sports club.
This Raw Yoga Meetup group organizes both indoors and outdoors yoga meetings, and even lovely candle-lit beach sessions. This Paddle-board Yoga Meetup group offers the chance for refreshing sessions on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
The Al Raha Beach Hotel also offers Bikram Yoga classes.
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