Sports Tourism in Abu Dhabi

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Sports Tourism in Abu Dhabi

Executive Summary

Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates remains one of the most promising tourist attraction venues, especially when it comes to sports tourism. Many success factors have led to the growth of this industry in this part of the world, including governmental support and the presence of a well-developed structural sports unit in the country. Although the aspects mentioned above promote sports tourism in Abu Dhabi, sports centers are located far apart and scattered across the region. Since most people travel from different counties to this place, they cannot feel the complete effect of sports tourism. If all sports facilities are brought together at once centralized point, their experience will be better. As a result, the major strategic gap is the decentralization of sports tourism and the lack of adequate control of this industry. The creation of a sports center will help to centralize all sporting activities present in one area It will not only improve the marketing of sports tourism, but will also ensure that the system is working efficiently. In addition, the establishment of a sports cultural tourism center will comply with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030. Some of these goals relate to social, economic, environmental and cultural improvements and preservation. However, it is important to note that the centralization of sports activities and the provision of control will be achieved gradually after the correct input of the required resources. The implementation of this initiative will fill the present gap in the sports tourism industry across Abu Dhabi.



Sports tourism remains one of the fastest developing areas of tourism across the globe today. It is a result of the influence of external environment, namely a large number of people travelling to either observe particular sports or to engage in certain activities in Abu Dhabi, namely hard and soft tourism. The first refers to a huge number of people travelling to one area to observe or engage in a given sport. A good example of such forms includes the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup (Khan, 2014). Soft sports refer to the case when tourists travel to engage in recreational sports, such as hiking, canoeing or skiing. Abu Dhabi remains one of the most prominent sporting places in the world with facilities that can handle both soft and hard sports (Khan, 2014). Sports tourism can also be classified into event, nostalgia or active types. The first refers to a place being the major sporting destination. Nostalgia sports tourism is the same as a recreational sport type, and active sports refer to a direct involvement in sports activities (Lamont, 2014). Examples of some common sports that largely attract tourists in Abu Dhabi include desert sports, watersports and the presence of well-structured sporting venues. In recent years, the region has received a great number of tourists coming for sporting events. Ideally, it means that Abu Dhabi has developed some of the most elaborate sporting facilities that attract many tourists.


A PEST-D analysis shown below identifies some of the factors that lead to such a great number of people visiting Abu Dhabi.

Table 1

PEST-D Analysis of Sports Tourism

Political factors:

1) The UAE has a relatively stable political situation and provides a room for most sporting activities to occur successfully. The government has two levels. The top one is national, while the other is divided among the seven Emirates (Sutton, 2016).

2) The countrys sports department has a clear and elaborate framework in handling all issues that relate to sports tourism (Holt & Ruta, 2015).

3) The government remains consistent in promoting activities in the sporting sector (Sutton, 2016).

4) The country had conflicts with its neighbors because of oil business, but today the situation is stable and does not affect sports tourism (Sutton, 2016).

5) Healthy trade relations with many countries around the world promote a positive image of the UAE among tourists (Sutton, 2016).

Economic factors:

1) The highest revenue in the country comes from tourist activities.

2) There are very low unemployment rates.

3) Taxes are not imposed on local and personal goods, but those mainly in the oil business (Sutton, 2016).

4) The UAE has reduced custom duty on various products.

5) There are eliminated or no trading barriers.

6) The rates of crime are quite low as compared to other areas or surrounding countries (Prayag & Hosany, 2014).

7) Abu Dhabi boasts of high amounts of direct foreign investments attracting rich people from all over the world, who can invest in sports tourism as well (Sutton, 2016).

Social-cultural factors:

1) Abu Dhabi puts focus on the Islamic culture since the majority of the populace is Muslims.

2) People live a wealthy and lavish lifestyle allowing them to spend money on sports activities.

3) Abu Dhabi has a mix of different cultures across the world (Sutton, 2016).

Technological aspects:

1) Abu Dhabi boasts of technological advancements offered by many companies.

2) It attracts the young population that has put too much focus on technology innovations (Ranjha, 2010).

Porters Five-Forces Analysis

Porters five-forces analysis provides information on the competitive nature of a specific industry. It is based on the key five features that influence competition in a given field. These include competition within the industry, suppliers and buyers bargaining power, threat of the entry of new players and threat of substitution. The table below provides information on the competitive nature of the sports tourism industry based on the five forces in Porters model.

Table 2

Porters Five-Forces Analysis of Sports Tourism in Abu Dhabi

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Industry Competition

There are different kinds of sports being advocated for by different players. Some of them include rugby, athletics and Formula One that have made their way and established their position in the market. Players in these three different sports compete to receive the largest market share in Abu Dhabi. Recreational sports are also competitive since they occur at any time of the year as compared to other events like active sports during specific seasons (Saayman, 2012). For example, there is increased competition among sites selected as host venues for Formula One race. Abu Dhabi has to compete with other areas.

Threat of Substitute Services

There are no direct substitutes to sports tourism across the country. Nonetheless, tourists visiting Abu Dhabi can choose to engage in different forms of tourist activities, including cultural tourism, educational tourism and any other types of tourism (Lamont, 2014). Nonetheless, this does not serve as a true substitute since real ones will directly have to involve participants in active sports, and in this case, they are absent.

Suppliers Bargaining Power

Suppliers in the industry are largely made up of companies that decide to sponsor some large tournaments and activities across the world. They determine a specific location of certain events that will be held in Abu Dhabi, as well as other important external factors, including the price for tickets and other external variables (Sutton, 2016).

Buyers Bargaining Power

Buyers bargaining power refers to the power of consumers. Since major sporting activities are never a basic need of most parties, clients decide the most appropriate time, at which they are willing to engage in certain sporting activities. Their decision is guided by some variables, including their likeness for specific sports, price for tickets and the time of the year when certain sports are present (Holt & Ruta, 2015). The price for most sports is largely guided by the need of the people of Abu Dhabi.

Threat of New Entrants

New entrants in the market always pose a danger to the existing companies that have heavily invested in sports tourism for many years. The threat becomes larger if it slices a given portion of consumers from other parties and carves a niche in the market. In this case, new entrants may be companies that seek to introduce a new kind of sport that has not existed before and that focus on creating competition with all other established parties.

Driving Forces

Holiday Culture

The holiday culture is the first driving force for tourism industry because of a high number of tourists. Most sporting events commonly take place during specific seasons. In Abu Dhabi, most recreational activities commonly occur during holidays when most people are out of work spending time with their families. High numbers of tourists are noted during this period, and most of them end up in recreational sporting activities after visiting other areas (Khan, 2014). People visit Abu Dhabi on holidays, especially in December.

Sporting Events and Infrastructure

Abu Dhabi remains one of the most modern cities across the world due to its developed infrastructure, which allows to organize numerous high-class sporting activities. As a result, most elaborate world sporting events take place in such areas, especially the Formula One racing and the Rugby Cup series (Sutton, 2016). More people visit such events coming from various countries to Abu Dhabi.

Culture and Marketing

Whenever there is a sporting event across the world, there is always a culture associated with people going to such sporting events, especially when they have been fully advertised by all required parties. Fans also travel to different places to catch a glimpse of their favorite sports personalities in action against some of the best teams. Abu Dhabi offers such cultural experience to tourists.

Strategic Group Map

A strategic group map is a critical tool that normally guides the management in explaining differences in the performance of different subunits within the same department. It helps in the identification of opportunities. In the case below, the strategic map has been based on pricing. Two classes have been chosen in this regard, namely high and low prices in the market. Sports tourism is identified among the major subunits associated with low pricing. This information is essential in the planning of activities associated with sports tourism.

Key Success Factors

There are several key success factors that define sports tourism in Abu Dhabi. The first one is huge investments in the infrastructure and development of sporting activities and a sporting culture. In the case of Abu Dhabi, these expenses are directed at the development of world-class sporting centers that serve to attract world sporting activities and contribute to sports tourism in the most dynamic and elaborate manner (Sutton, 2016). The second success factor is the presence of enough financial resources readily invested in the sports industry. They ensure that the business meets the required standards. It is typical of most buildings present in Abu Dhabi. Government support is another key success factor. Most state-of-the-art facilities, as well as the marketing process, have been conducted by the government. Marketing provides information about Abu Dhabi from different perspectives and increases the competitiveness of the industry. It opens up the region to the rest of the world (Saayman, 2012). The climate also plays a major role since tourists prefer visiting areas with cool climates. Lastly, the culture of people facilitates interaction in a perfect manner.

Industry Profile and Attractiveness

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Sports tourism remains one of the most promising areas of cultural tourism in Abu Dhabi. Huge investments that have been made in this area make it attractive for businesses dues to high profits, increased sales and competitive intensity. In the United Arab Emirates, there is a huge revenue base coming from activities related to sports tourism. The future looks brighter since more sports are developed on a daily basis in the region, and the tourism industry continues to grow. The major challenge is the fact that fewer investments are made in this sector as compared to other tourism types. The industry is moderately attractive, but in the future years, it has the potential to become highly attractive.

Idea Generation and Development

The establishment of a sports tourism cultural center and its departmental units in the sports ministry will incorporate all activities associated with sports tourism and will help to deal with the existing gap of decentralization. It will house all sporting events related to sports tourism and will be the same as an Olympic village. Several advantages are associated with the above project. The sports tourism cultural center will provide a platform for the existing and new sports to be marketed. Moreover, all resources will be pooled together meaning that tourists will come to one place that is full of sporting activities. The presence of the unit will ensure that all events related to sports tourism are handled at a central point under a specific head meaning that the department will be able to implement its strategies to increase the number of customers in a given place. The major issue will be the amount of financial or other resources necessary for the project.

Table 3

Resources Necessary for Idea Implementation

Tangible Resources


Firms cash and cash equivalents


State-of-the-art machinery and equipment


Innovative production processes

Patents, copyrights, trademarks


Effective strategic and planning process

Excellent evaluation and control systems

Intangible Resources


Experience and capabilities of employees

Managerial skills

Innovation and Creativity

Technical and scientific skills

Innovation capacities


Brand name

Reputation with customers for reliability

Reputation with suppliers for fairness

Organizational Capabilities


Outstanding marketing services

Innovative services

Ability to hire and retain human capital

Estidama Framework

The Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 focuses on issues related to the sustainability of the economy, culture, society, and the environment (The Government of Abu Dhabi, 2008). The proposed idea will maintain the cultural heritage of people since all sporting activities will be associated with cultural practices ( The Government of Abu Dhabi, 2008). Secondly, the idea will increase revenue coming in the country. Thirdly, it will seek to preserve the environment by engaging in activities that do not affect it.

Table 4

Framework Meeting the Goals of the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030


The idea of building a sports center advocates for sports as a method of preserving the natural environment.


The idea increases countrys revenue in the achievement of its economic goals.


The idea targets communal sports to illustrate the importance of culture.


The idea protects cultural interests by hiring people from the community to work in the sports center.


Sports tourism remains one of the most promising areas in Abu Dhabi after investments by the government and other entities. However, the establishment of a centralized sports cultural center will serve to ensure the efficiency of programs. Ideally implementing such a plan will help Abu Dhabi become a world center of sports tourism and contribute towards the achievement, sustainability and feasibility of the Abu Dhabi 2030 strategic framework.

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