Abu Dhabi has sport in its DNA…

Abu Dhabi is a bit of a heavy weight when it comes to securing globally significant sporting events. And despite the fact that 2021 was one of the most successful and memorable on record (thoughts immediately turn to the last lap of the last race of the F1 World Championships) — 2022 is shaping up to be a contender. But will it take the crown?

Here are all the top sporting events we can look forward to over the next 12 months…

NBA Abu Dhabi

The Milwaukee Bucks (who also happen to be 2021 league champions) will face off against the Atlanta Hawks in Abu Dhabi later this year in what is an incredibly exciting NBA first. The tense pre-season friendly will take place at the Etihad Arena on October 6 and 8. It’s part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi’s (DCT Abu Dhabi) multi-year partnership to bring NBA games to the UAE. And now the full range of tickets for both dates are officially on sale with prices from Dhs205, available through the nbaevents.nba.com/abu-dhabi website.

UFC 281

MMA’s biggest spectacle, the UFC Fight Island series is returning to Abu Dhabi again this year. Taking place on October 22, this fight night will represent the 17th UFC event in Abu Dhabi, the first being UFC 112: INVINCIBLE all the way back in April 2010, back in the pre-PCR era. Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but fight fans are encouraged to register their interest on the visitabudhabi website, for early access. You’ll also be among the first to learn about the events making up Showdown Week (which has in the past included performances from talent such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers).

Abu Dhabi World Festival Jiu-Jitsu Championship

The 14th edition of the Abu Dhabi World Festival Jiu-Jitsu Championship is coming for the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City between November 11 and 12. Showcasing a range of age-graded, mat-rolling talent — this event represents one of the most important dates of the Middle East’s martial arts calendar. Registrations are open now.

Formula 1 Etihad Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The Yas Marina Circuit, recently remixed and upgraded specifically to get the best out of new 2022 F1 car models (with increased opportunities for overtaking), will once again host the thrilling conclusion to the Formula 1 season. The race weekend will take place from November 18 to November 20, 2022. We already know the first confirmed artist to play at the Yasalam After Race Concerts, Swedish House Mafia, booked in for Friday November 19. Unbelievably – early bird packages are on sale now (priced from Dhs699) with up to a massive 30 per cent off full cost, available via the yasmarinacircuit.com website.

World Triathlon Championship Finals

The pinnacle of the world triathlon series is booked in for a Yas Island showdown, from November 23 to 26 this year. Comprising of three back-to-back athletic challenges (a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run), in addition to concluding the year’s racing for the global triathlete elite, the event will also offer community challenges for plucky Abu Dhabi residents. Have you got what it takes to beat the fabled triple? Yes, great, no? Get your (waterproof) shoes on, you’ve got a few months to get in shape.

T10 Abu Dhabi

A tournament featuring cricket’s fastest and most exhilarating format, the T10s are returning to Abu Dhabi for a fourth time later this year. Set to be held at Zayed Cricket Stadium between November 23 and December 4, the Abu Dhabi T10 is known for its quickfire wicket-shattering, big swinging, six-smashing, lightning-bowled, electric paced matches, typically concluded within a couple of hours. The UAE was literally the epicentre of the cricketing world last year, hosting the T20 World Cup, the IPL and the 2021 edition of T10 Abu Dhabi which took place in late January/early February. The tournament pulled in some A-List cricketing legends too, with impressive performances from the likes Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, and Faf du Plessis.

Spartan World Championship

Taking place on the UAE’s 51st National Day weekend, December 2-4, registration for the World Championships of one sport’s most punishing challenges — the Spartan Trials, is open now, priced from Dhs216. The gruelling obstacle-littered courses will take the Spartan tribe through the stunning Martian-esque dunescape of Al Wathba.

FIBA 3×3 World Tour Finals


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The popularity of FIBA 3×3 has exploded over recent years. It’s a thrill-paced three-on-three basketball format, popularised and taken from the streets and urban blacktop courts — a grass roots tribute to balling, and as of Tokyo 2021, now officially an Olympic sport (an achievement, Abu Dhabi’s support had a big role to play in). The 11th edition of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Finals is set to take place in Abu Dhabi between December 9 and 10, 2022. Ticket details coming soon.

BLAST Premier World Final

One of eSport’s most spectacular tournaments, the BLAST Premier World Final will take place at the Etihad Arena for the very first time this December. Eight of the world’s best Counter-Strike (it’s a cult FPS game for the uninitiated) teams will compete to take home the trophy alongside an epic USD one million prize pool. It’s all going down between December 14 and 18, at the Yas Island venue, and tickets have now gone on sale starting at Dhs115 (or Dhs50 for students), available via the etihadarena.ae website.

Mubadala World Tennis Championship


It’s official, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) one of tennis’ most eagerly anticipated invite-only racket rocket battles, will return to the capital between December 16 and 18, 2022. The 2021 session saw packed stadiums, audacious upsets and dazzling tournament debuts. Every smash, ace, rally and lightning cross-court volley was watched by an international-drawn audience. Off the court, the entertainment options at the Tennis Village reached new heights. On the courts, Ons Jabeur and Andrey Rublev took home the women’s and men’s titles respectively. The tournament normally kicks off mid December (with 2022 dates TBA), and takes place at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City.

ADNOC Marathon

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Taking place this year on Saturday December 17, this year’s ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon will invite the world’s elite distance runners to compete on one of the quickest 42.2 kilometres on the circuit. Not quite up for the full slog? You can also take part in the 10k, 5k and 2.5k races too. Registration is open now and full Marathon participation will cost you Dhs315.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Yas Links

Following a hotly-contested tournament in January at new venue, Yas Links, this year — the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will return to the rolling greens of Yas Island for a January 19 to January 22 tee-party in 2023. The cream of world golfing will make their way to the capital for this, what is, one of the highlights of the Rolex Series. Ticket sales will be announced at a later date.

Unconfirmed but likely:

UAE Tour

The product of a merger between the Abu Dhabi Tour and the Dubai Tour. the UAE Tour cycling took place in February of this year, making a February 2023 date highly likely. The event takes the peddle-powered pack through some diverse and sceneic landscapes in both emirates, across multiple legs. Stay tuned to What’s On for more info as we get it.

Images: Provided/Getty/Instagram