Warming up: why more top athletes are choosing to come to the UAE

Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped athletes and sports teams flocking to the country, home to a vibrant sports tourism scene

Premier league footballers, Wimbledon-winning tennis players and Olympic gold medallists – all have been drawn to the UAE winter for warm-weather training over the past couple of decades.

Even with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic pausing travel for most people – most recently, from the UK – professional sportspeople are still coming to the Emirates in droves, whether for training, relaxation or marketing purposes, such as when UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov played against Turkish chef and Instagram mega-influencer Burak Özdemir earlier this week. 

“The coronavirus has affected travel across all sectors, and of course sport is not immune to that, but with a warm climate and excellent facilities in addition to strong safety measures, Dubai remains an attractive destination for sports teams,” James Thomas, performance director at British Gymnastics, told Arabian Business.

However, thanks to the coronavirus, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for every sports team in Dubai.

Earlier this week, 13 Celtic players were forced to self-isolate following a positive test for one of their team-mates upon returning to Scotland. Similarly, players of the Arsenal and Manchester City women’s teams were reprimanded follwing an unauthorised trip to the emirate. 

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