x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Football, swimming, MMA, Formula One, rugby, golf, tennis, athletics – the UAE’s calendar is full for the foreseeable.

Novak Djokovic returns to Nicoles Almagro in the final of the 2012 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Mike Young / The National
Novak Djokovic returns to Nicoles Almagro in the final of the 2012 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Mike Young / The National

Schools have long since reopened their doors, and memories of that holiday away are fading fast. The summer was officially over weeks ago.

But nothing confirms that the UAE is back to life like the flurry of sporting events the autumn has on its schedule. The real summer, our summer, is now over.

This year, it is as if scientists have discovered the perfect day to blow away the cobwebs.

It all starts Thursday.

The 2013 Fifa Under 17 World Cup kicks off in Abu Dhabi with Brazil taking on Slovakia and the UAE facing Honduras at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

That afternoon, the fourth round of the Fina Swimming World Cup gets underway at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Sports Complex, a venue the returning South African swimmer Chad Le Clos called the best in the world last year.

That same night, the Dubai Sports Council rolls out Desert Force, the first Arab professional mixed martial arts competition, set to take place at the Knights Stadium at American University in Dubai.

Sure, if you looked hard enough during the summer, you would have spotted the odd gem.

But only the most rabid of sports fans could muster the enthusiasm to attend, considering the crushing heat and bravery required. The summer made for long days of sweat-drenched shirts, scalding steering wheels and flu-inducing air conditioning.

The U17 World Cup, the fifth time the UAE has held a Fifa-sanctioned competition, offers a peak into the future, both for the country’s stars and talent from around the world.

The last football event of similar stature to be held in the UAE, the 2003 Fifa Youth World Cup, gave the country two-time Gulf Cup champion Ismail Matar; and served up a talented Spanish footballer by the name of Andres Iniesta.

What are the chances the next Iniesta, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo will emerge from this tournament to score the winning goal at the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow?

But the kids will have to take a back seat for three days as the Formula One circus rolls into town.

If the first four stagings of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are any gauge, few local events can compete with the energy and noise of F1 racing.

There is even a small chance that the drivers’ title will be settled at Yas Marina Circuit on November 3 if Fernando Alonso of Ferrari can stop Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing from wrapping up his fourth consecutive championship in New Delhi at the Indian Grand Prix on October 27.

At the other end of November, starting on the 28th, is the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, now with a capacity of 50,000, and its usual mix of fantastic rugby, good-natured patriotism and silly costume-wearing spectators.

The end of the year could bring joy to local gossip magazines if Rory McIlroy (with tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki) returns to Dubai to defend his title at the DP World Tour Championship.

Most golf fans will be more interested in the conclusion to the European Tour’s Race To Dubai, currently led by Henrik Stenson of Sweden, a former resident here.

And if you are lucky enough, you might witness another moment of genius to rival Justin Rose’s putt on the 18th green last year, seemingly from somewhere near Abu Dhabi, that stopped, agonisingly, inches from the hole.

The year ends with the Mubadala World Tennis Championship from December 26 to 28 in Abu Dhabi, with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray among the six players battling it out at Zayed Sports City.

On January 25, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is an opportunity for Dubai residents to shake off those extra New Years pounds and to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best distance runners. For the first few minutes at least.

Then there are the usual fixtures that we take for granted.

The 2014 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and Dubai Desert Classic in January. The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for men and women in February. And finally, the big one; the Dubai World Cup on March 29, the world’s richest horse-racing festival.

Before you know it, it will all be all over, the onset of the summer confirmed when your Facebook timeline mysteriously turns into a weather channel.

There will not be many local sporting events taking place. At least not till October.

On the other hand, there is a little competition taking place in Brazil next June ....


Local event information, s14