Soccer is becoming more popular in the UAE

The UAE's soccer leagues may have a long way to go before they attract the same kind of global attention as the English Premier League or Spain's La Liga, but there is no doubt that the game is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East.Dubai boasts some of the finest sporting facilities on the planet and a number of famous clubs have staged week-long training camps in the city over the past few months.The latest team to visit the emirate is Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, who are coached by Dutch veteran Guus Hiddink.He took his side to the wonderful Academies Campus at Dubai Sports City (DSC) and Hiddink - who is constantly linked with the top managerial jobs in Europe - was impressed by what he saw.The facility has full-sized indoor and outdoor grass pitches, as well as a number of artificial surfaces, and Hiddink is not the first person to comment on how good the DSC complex is."For a manager or coach the most important thing is to have a good pitch where you can play and they can water it during the heat," he remarked."That's the most important thing for me - we can practice very well at a high level. That is the main reason to be here."As you would perhaps expect from a city with such a stunning coastline, beach soccer is also becoming a popular pastime in Dubai.Two-time Fifa World Player of the Year Joao Victor Madjer recently helped his team Al Ahli secure the UAE league title.Afterwards, he told Gulf News that a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to make UAE beach soccer a major success and he pointed to the fact that the nation has qualified for the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup as evidence that the game is growing in the Middle East."The Dubai Sports Council takes this work very seriously and all this hard work is bound to show at a later date," he was quoted as saying.

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