The 828-metre-high Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made structure, is found in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), towering high above lines of other skyscrapers, impressive in their own right. It was just back in January of 2010 that audiences worldwide tuned in to the dazzling Burj Khalifa launch ceremony, impressed that such a wonder was constructed in six years.
This past Tuesday in Abu Dhabi (Dubai’s neighbour) at another spectacular launch ceremony, the official emblem for the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 was revealed, and Local Organising Committee members spoke proudly of progress with another visionary building project – the growth of football here.
For a long time this country has been passionate about the sport, but the UAE Football Association and other national leaders have made great efforts in recent years to upgrade the experience on the pitch and in the stands. The winning bid to host this year’s U-17 World Cup is the latest, and possibly the biggest yet, reward for these efforts.
“We have so many passionate football fans in the UAE, and it’s very exciting to be able to bring them a FIFA event like this, which the world will be watching,” said HE Yousef Y Al Serkal, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Within the last year, the UAE Olympic Team qualified and competed in London 2012, and the senior national team thrilled fans this January in winning the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations. The country’s professional league has also grown bigger and become better at engaging fans. Plus UAE has previously hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2003 and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 and 2010.
Even though traditional winter weather in the UAE is mainly confined to the famous indoor ski facility at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, Local Organising Committee members hope for a snowball effect from bringing world-class football events to the UAE.
“Having a competition of the quality of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which everyone can follow and attend, has a big effect on the development of football here. This is very important to us,” said Al Serkal.
Adding to national excitement toward this fall’s tournament – taking place from 17th October – 8th November in 2013 – six cities across the nation will host matches. While travellers around the world are largely familiar with Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the FIFA U-17 World Cup matches will also take place in beautiful coastal town of Fujairah, mountain-lined Ras Al Khaimah, cultural heartland Sharjah and football-obsessed Al Ain.
The country-wide match locations will provide visiting international fans with an opportunity for a truly rich and varied UAE experience, and people across the nation will have a chance to see world-class football up close.
“We’re looking forward to sharing the FIFA U-17 World Cup with all the people of the UAE,” said HE Mohammad Abdulla bin Bdoua, tournament director and member of the Local Organising Committee. “We also know there will be a lot of people coming from overseas to watch the football, and we want them to know they’re most welcome here.”