The Union Cycliste Internationale is pleased to announce that is has awarded the prestigious UCI Bike City label to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), which becomes the first city in the Middle East and Asia to receive the distinction.

This brings to 20 the number of cities and regions worldwide that have been awarded this label for their commitment to hosting international cycling events, promoting the sport across the community, and developing cycling infrastructure and programmes that support the UCI’s cycling for all strategy.

Following the UCI Bike City label unveiling at a special ceremony on Al Hudayriyat Island, a world-class cycling hub, Abu Dhabi was confirmed as the venue for the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships and 2028 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.

The announcement also underscores Abu Dhabi’s commitment to the UCI’s cycling for all programme, which encourages people around the world to make cycling a part of their everyday lives as a means of transport, leisure and sporting activity, and in order to promote a more active, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

“The UCI Bike City label supports cities and regions that not only host major UCI cycling events but also invest in developing cycling through programmes and infrastructure,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “We are happy to announce Abu Dhabi as the latest addition to this list. Designating Abu Dhabi as the Middle East and Asia’s first UCI Bike City underlines the diverse initiatives being taken to promote cycling and encourage participation across the emirate. Abu Dhabi has a clear vision, master plan and strategy to promote cycling across the community and to make the sport accessible to everyone.”

His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Achieving the UCI Bike City status acknowledges our ongoing efforts to encourage cycling across Abu Dhabi through emirate-wide commitments that expand our network of tracks, groups, events and activities to enable increased cycling adoption for sport, leisure and mobility.”

The Abu Dhabi Government has launched Bike Abu Dhabi, an enabling platform designed to advance the development of Abu Dhabi as a leading global cycling hub, and increase uptake of the sport as a means of mobility, leisure and sport.

Its initiatives include extending the emirate’s existing 300km cycling network to around 1,000km in the near future. Part of the extension will comprise the Abu Dhabi Loop – a 109km segregated cycle-way linking key destinations around the city. Plans are also in place to build Velodrome Hudayriyat – with spectator capacity of 3,500, which will further enhance Hudayriyat Island as the city’s main cycling hub.

The emirate’s well established cycling club ecosystem provides opportunities for cyclists of all levels – from top-level competitions to weekly group rides and casual social rides. The full-time Abu Dhabi Cycling Club operates under the umbrella of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which is involved in organising and hosting elite-level competitions and community events.

Abu Dhabi is home to world-class cycling destinations including a total of 28km of waterside cycling track at Al Hudayriyat Island and a total of 40km of cycling track at Al Wathba in the desert. Abu Dhabi’s cycling community can also train for free twice a week on the world-famous Yas Marina Circuit Formula One track on Yas Island. In addition, the community has unlimited access to an established urban cycling network that has recently been expanded and upgraded.

Abu Dhabi’s plans to advance cycling as a more environmentally friendly form of transport are in line with the UAE’s wider efforts to drive sustainability, underlined by the country’s bid to host COP28 in 2023.