In central Abu Dhabi the temperatures were close to 45c. Existing in this was almost impossible so much so that every 100 yards the conditions made you want to reach for fluids.

How can you play football in this?

In the face of such temperatures sport and football in the region can be hard particularly during the summer months.  This did not stop Qatar gaining the title of hosts for the 2022 FIFA World Cup (which will be a winter tournament) but running around in extreme temperatures 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.  The League was founded in 1973 as the UAE Football League and gradually levels of professionalism, royal patronage, investment and sponsorship have increased.

Abu Dhabi has a total of four football stadiums with clubs like Al Wahda, Baniyas Sports and Al Jazira FC being the biggest.

Al-Jazira are located in the Al Nahyan neighbourhood formed in 1974 as a merger between two clubs Khalidiyah and Al Bateen.

Like many clubs in the region, a Sheikh will have a role both at a club often from a playing perspective and then they move onto administrative role at a football club.  The administrative roles can range from being President or sitting on a club advisory management committee directing strategy.

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 Caat while those previously in charge include Eric Gerets, Walter Zenga, Franky Vercauteren and Rinus Israel.

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.