United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The UAE is playing host to the FIFA Club World Cup™ for the fifth time. The federation consists of seven coastal emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. They were brought together under the United Arab Emirates flag in 1971 by the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who hailed from Abu Dhabi and ruled the country until his death in 2004, when he was succeeded by his son, current president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The capitals of the seven emirates were all once pristine seaside towns living off pearl diving and sea trade with places like IR Iran and India, but an oil-driven economic boom saw the nation flourish into one of the richest in the world over the 50 years of the union, which saw its population skyrocket from less than 300,000 in 1971 to nearly ten million today.
The country’s two largest cities, the capital Abu Dhabi and its neighbour Dubai, are now global centres of business and tourism, attracting millions of visitors every year and hosting sport, industry, and entertainment events all year round.
With a largely flat desert terrain, an extensive network of highways makes it possible to travel from Abu Dhabi in the south-west to Ras Al Khaimah in the north-eastern tip of the country in less than three hours, while the east coast of the UAE features its main mountain range: the Hajar mountains, which extend into neighbouring Oman.
The host city for UAE 2021 is the capital and second largest city. Abu Dhabi is the centre of the oil industry in the nation, with about 80 per cent of its reserves split between the desert to the west of the capital and the offshore fields in the gulf.
The urban centre where the majority of Abu Dhabi’s 1.5 million population reside is an island connected to the mainland through four bridges.
Over the past two decades, Abu Dhabi has diversified from its historic reliance on oil, reinventing itself as one of the cultural hubs of the region with a plethora of museums, universities and art galleries, while its main entertainment destination, Yas Island, is home to multiple theme parks, beaches, and entertainment venues, contributing to a constant inflow of tourists from across the world.
With as many as three major stadiums within its perimeter – Zayed Sports City, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium – Abu Dhabi has already hosted many footballing events including the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2003, the FIFA U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2013, the AFC Asian Cup in 1996 and 2019, and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018.
The UAE capital is connected to Dubai, the country’s largest city, through two multilane highways, while other highways link it to neighbouring countries Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Area: approx. 972 km²
Currency: UAE Dirham
Local time: UTC+4 hours (GST)
Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium
The largest of the two host stadiums for UAE 2021, the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium is the home ground of Al Jazira Club, the current reigning champions of the UAE Pro League.
First opened in 1976, it underwent several renovations and expansions, eventually taking its capacity to over 40,000 fans. The stadium located at the heart of Abu Dhabi Island has hosted six FIFA Club World Cup matches across the 2009 and 2010 editions.
Al Nahyan Stadium
Less than five kilometres to the north of the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium lies Al Nahyan Stadium, the home ground of Al Wahda Club, Al Jazira’s fiercest rivals. Built in 1995, the venue was renovated in preparation for hosting the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
The stadium is located within walking distance of the central bus station that connects the capital to the rest of the UAE, and is connected to Al Wahda Mall, one of Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping centres through a pedestrian bridge. Its location in the middle of the central business district offers magnificent views of the Abu Dhabi skyline from the stands.