Your guide to Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi

Find out more about the home of the Special Olympics opening ceremony

Your guide to Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi

The concept is so glaringly simple it is baffling that more cities don’t do the same. It is not uncommon to find a business district or cultural quarter, but a neighbourhood entirely dedicated to world class sporting excellence is less common.

While most capitals could boast a national stadium or a collection of pitches and facilities it is rare to find such a concentration as in the incredible Zayed Sports City. The multi-sport facility boasts facilities which are used, not only for international competitions, but can also be enjoyed by city residents also. If you're watching major sporting events in the city – non-motor sport-related, at least - there is a good chance it is happening here.

The jewel of the complex is the 43,000 seat capacity Zayed Sports City stadium. As well as being home to the UAE national football team it has staged FIFA World Cup tournaments, X-Games events and national events.

Not, however, that football is limited to spectators. There are more than 15 football pitches, including multiple surfaces and 11-a-side, seven-a-side and five-a-side-sized areas used by soccer, grid iron and even Gaelic football clubs and amateur teams.

If grass sports aren't your thing, there is much more to investigate. The International Tennis Centre is used to host the annual tournaments with the world's best players. Or there is ping pong and beach volleyball or netball and basketball courts to rent. Most of the sports also offer community leagues, teams to join and even coaching.

Throw in ice sports at the ZSC rink and it opens up an altogether cooler, quite literally, sporting avenue. From ice hockey teams and pick-up games featuring expatriate teams who play against other city clubs in the region, to figure skating associations and coaching it is just another string in the bow of Zayed Sports City.

The neighbourhood has more than 30 sports listed among its facilities and the provision for each is fantastic. Want to try roller derby, softball, baseball or even water polo, then this is where you'll need to investigate. Same goes for combat sports such as akido or paintball. None among us has never wondered how much we would enjoy shooting paint at complete strangers and be able to justify it as sporting pursuit. Try it.

Although the health and fitness side of recreational sport is key to Zayed Sport City – advanced coaching and personal-best-pushing programmes exist in most sports – it is more about enjoyment and fighting against a sedentary lifestyle. Even if you can’t pick an active sport to begin with then at the very least enjoy the 40-lane bowling alley and chuck a few balls while you think of what your new sporting obsession will be.

Check individual outlets for timings. Zayed Sports City, Airport Road, (02 403 4200).

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