People have lived in the principalities that make up modern day United Arab Emirates (UAE) for centuries. Once upon a time, this was a loose assortment of settlements filled with seagoing traders based loosely on the shores of the Persian Gulf.
The region then became known as an impoverished region with small desert Sheikdoms known for very little. Thanks to oil, gas and finance the UAE has since been transformed into a modern state with very high standards of living. Also once known as the Trucial States this area of the world became independent in the 1970’s. The modern day places of interest are situated along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf between Qatar and Straits of Hormuz. Borders are shared with the equally prosperous Qatar; the more radical Saudi Arabia and the unknowns of Oman.
Of the states that make up the UAE, Abu Dhabi is more than six times the size of the other states put together. The capital and the second most populous city – and also a capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi – it lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast.
The city of Abu Dhabi proper had a population of around 1.5 million. Largely Muslim the ethnic groupings are diverse across Emiri, Arab, Iranians, South Asian peoples as well as a diverse range of European expats who reside in the area for work. These days only 20% of UAE citizens are said to have been native born. While Islamic fundamentalism is said to be a growing concern the prosperous nature of the UAE (and the abundance of work) ensures extremism is not the issue it can be elsewhere in the region.
With an abundance of oil and gas, unfortunately, less than 1% of the land is arable and most vegetation is sparse and scrubby. Dates palm growing is about all there is and while self-sufficiency in wheat production has increased thanks to subsidies this remains sparse due to irrigation problems. Most raw products and materials are imported.
Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate with temperatures averaging above 38 °C (100 °F).
Al Jazeera FC
With temperatures so warm sport and football in the region can be hard particularly during the summer months. Of course, this has not stopped Qatar gaining the title of hosts for the 2022 FIFA World Cup but running around in temperatures that seldom decline below the very warm is not ideal for optimal sports performance.
The Arabian Gulf League is the top professional football league in the UAE and 14 clubs compete in the league that operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the UAE First Division. The League was first founded in 1973 as the UAE Football League and gradually professionalism, royal patronage, investment and sponsorship have increased.
Al-Jazira were formed in 1974 as a merger between two clubs Khalidiyah and Al Bateen with the new joint club able to accommodate the large growing number of young people eager to practice the sport.
Like many clubs in the region, a Sheikh will have a role both at a club often from a playing perspective and then move onto administrative role at a football club. The administrative roles can range from being President or sitting on a club advisory management committee.
Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, commonly known as Sheikh Mansour is currently the chairman of the Al Jazeera sports company and was a leading figure in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup tournament. This sports company owns the Al Jazira Club. It’s worth noting that Sheikh Mansour also owns the City Football Group, which consists of Manchester City F.C, Melbourne City F.C and New York City F.C.
The current Al Jazira squad is a multinational one but only a small proportion of the playing squad comes from overseas. However, those that do arrive in Abu Dhabi tend to be well known and well paid. The current Al Jazira squad includes Mirko Vucinic formally of AS Roma and Juventus, Jefferson Farfan formally of Schalke 04 and the Brazilian Thiago Neves. The current coach is well travelled Dutchman Henk ten Cate while those previously in charge include Eric Gerets, Walter Zenga, Franky Vercauteren and Rinus Israel.
Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium
The Al-Jazira Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (Known in Arabic as ستاد محمد بن زايد) is currently used for the matches of Al Jazira.
With over 40,000 seats it is an ultra-modern air-conditioned sporting arena with a distinctive iconic architectural design that is unique for the UAE region. It has hosted league matches, international football games of the UAE as well as the FIFA World Club Cup in partnership with the cross-city Sheikh Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Capacity: 42, 056
City: Abu Dhabi
Clubs: Al – Jazira Club
Floodlights: 2000 Lux