As a fitting prelude to the opening in 2015 of the Real Madrid resort complex and 10,000-seat stadium, Ras Al Khaimah is set to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 beginning October 17. Fifty-two matches are to be played at six venues throughout the UAE. The matches in Ras Al Khaimah will be played at Emirates Stadium.
The U-17 World Cup is one of the biggest football events in the world. Held every two years, teams from around the world compete in elimination matches with the final matches held in the UAE. Officials anticipate that the tournament will be the largest football event ever held in the UAE. Although it will require a great deal of work to prepare the six venues in the UAE for the event, it will provide a boost to the stature of football in the region.
Upgrading the Facilities
Compared to stadiums in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the 3,000-seat stadium in Ras Al Khaimah might leave some wondering about its ability to host a World Cup tournament. The coach of the RAK club disagrees and believes that having some of the matches in Ras Al Khaimah will benefit the emirate with much needed upgrades to existing facilities.
A delegation from FIFA inspected all the facilities in the UAE, including those in Ras Al Khaimah. The members of the delegation determined that the facilities were on track for completion in June. Final inspection of all facilities will take place in August. In keeping with the overall plan of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi to invest for the future of RAK, the upgrades and preparations have included increasing RAK stadium capacity and making improvements to its training facilities. All of the upgrades will benefit residents of the emirate after the tournament is over.
Football Set to Overtake the UAE
The FIFA tournament will have 52 matches played in three weeks at six UAE facilities. Members of the RAK football community see this as an opportunity for this Northern Emirate to take its place with Dubai and Abu Dhabi as a stronghold for the development of football throughout the UAE. The improved facilities that will remain after the tournament should contribute to future development of the sport in the emirate.
Working Toward the Future of RAK
The FIFA U-17 World Cup brings with it the promise of future FIFA tournaments in the region. The planned $1 billion Real Madrid resort and sports complex along with its 10,000-seat stadium could make Ras Al Khaimah a future equal to Abu Dhabi and Dubai for sports in the region.
His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi has looked for ways to bring growth and investment into Ras Al Khaimah while, at the same time, improving the quality of life for its residents. The stature of the FIFA U-17 World Cup will elevate the visibility of RAK outside of the UAE, possibly as far away as Minnesota, and set the stage for the tourism explosion expected when Real Madrid opens in 2015.