Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), believes the UAE is continuing to make waves on the global sporting stage.

As well as a host of annual events – including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Dubai Desert Classic and Dubai Rugby Sevens –the UAE is now welcoming new competitions to its shores.

The FIFA Club World Cup will see Real Madrid headline the bill of continental champions coming to Abu Dhabi in December, while the UAE will also host football’s Asian Cup and the Special Olympics in 2019.

“Over 75 percent of tickets for the Club World Cup have been sold, and the emirate is expected to receive large numbers of tourists and visitors during the championship, which will promote local sports tourism,” Al Awani told local news agency Wam.

The ADSC chief also stressed the importance of “supporting people of determination” by hosting the 2019 Special Olympics and praised the establishment of the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy to nurture female talent in the UAE.

Next year will honour the sporting legacy left by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who built the foundations for the UAE’s sporting ascendancy. A number of initiatives are planned to mark the Year of Zayed 2018.