The International Masters Games Association (IMGA) announced today that Abu Dhabi has won the hosting rights to organise the Masters Games Series - Abu Dhabi 2026 for Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.
The event is to take place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
The first ever Masters Games in the Middle East shall be held from 23 March to 1 April 2026. The multinational sports event represents the UAE leadership’s support for developing the sports sector. Hosting the Masters Games also reaffirms the leadership’s keenness to embrace top international events and create opportunities for global outreach and world peace.
Hosting of the Games, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, reaffirms Abu Dhabi’s global position in attracting leading events and the UAE’s commitment to advancing global sporting events.
The Games consists of 30 sports and is open to all people of all abilities, aged 25 years and above.
The Games aim to encourage all Emiratis and expatriates to engage in sports, improve community member’s physical and mental health, bring athletes together from different generations, strengthen the sports ecosystem, and develop sports facilities while highlighting the host nation’s intrinsic culture, heritage and traditions.
The UAE’s capital is expected to host between 5,000-10,000 athletes over 9 days in various sports, including: basketball, 3X3 basketball, volleyball, jiu jitsu, muaythai, archery, badminton, weightlifting, table tennis, tennis, padel, athletics, squash, football, ice hockey, cycling, obstacle courses, shooting, swimming, golf, kayaking, rowing, sailing, falconry, camel racing, triathlon and futsal.
His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, affirmed that Abu Dhabi hosting of the 2026 Masters Games Series marks another success in the capital’s history of hosting international events, and is a testimony to the UAE’s wise leadership’s vision and support.
“The support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE has been instrumental in Abu Dhabi’s winning of the bid to host this global event. We are very proud to host this event and look forward to welcoming the world, once again to Abu Dhabi and to the UAE,” His Highness said.
“The upcoming event shall be held for the first time in the Middle East, which further reaffirms Abu Dhabi's leading position in hosting major global sporting events.
“Such events fulfil various important objectives, as they engage thousands of athletes from all segments of the UAE society, and from across the world, demonstrating the UAE’s tolerance and openness to all cultures.”
“With the support of our wise leadership, the state-of-the art infrastructure we have built, and our approach to implementing the highest professional standards, together we will be able to host a great show for the entire world.”
His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, praised Abu Dhabi’s winning of the rights to host and organise the Masters Games Series - Abu Dhabi 2026. This new tournament marks a new addition to the UAE's already impressive list of world-class sporting events and that of Abu Dhabi in particular. We owe this success to our wise leadership’s guidance and its insightful vision, he said.
His Highness said: "We are ready to provide all the support and reasons for success for the upcoming global event in which thousands of athletes from all over the world will participate, as Abu Dhabi is an ideal destination to host the upcoming competitions, starting from its central geographical location, in addition to its modern world-class facilities and infrastructure.
"The upcoming Games is more than just a global sporting event, it is a catalyst for improving the quality of life, and providing an opportunity for various members of society to participate in competitions, alongside professional and amateur participants from different nations of the world."
Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Community Development, emphasised the importance of Abu Dhabi hosting this global event within the vision of the wise leadership as a way of building bridges of communication and promoting community health through sports.
Her Excellency said: “The UAE views the sports sector’s initiatives through its comprehensive efforts to build people and preserve their physical and psychological health as a way of life that reflects positively on society as a whole.
“Choosing Abu Dhabi to host the Masters Games Series - Abu Dhabi 2026 will be a qualitative addition to the level of organisation, and an opportunity to highlight the authentic values of the UAE's land and culture.
“In addition to strengthening Abu Dhabi's position as a leading global destination in organising and hosting major community and sporting events embodied in the various Masters Games. The event brings together different cultures and peoples of different age groups under its umbrella.”
His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development, expressed his happiness at the news of Abu Dhabi hosting the Masters Games Series - Abu Dhabi 2026. It is another distinguished addition to the list of major sporting events hosted in the capital city, which reflects its readiness in terms of sports facilities and infrastructure, he said.
His Excellency said, "We are striving greatly to promote sport to become a way of life for members of society, and for our society to become active and responsible, whether by hosting sports and world championships, or by organising them by involving individuals and making them active."
He also pointed out sport’s critical role in removing societal barriers and bringing all communities together while improving the overall quality of life. Additionally, the economic impact has proven to be vast.
The President of IMGA and Olympic Champion Sergeii Bubka said: “Choosing Abu Dhabi as the host of the 2026 Open Masters Series is absolutely thrilling! With its amazing sports facilities and exciting attractions in close proximity, it's the perfect destination for sports enthusiasts and tourists alike. Plus, the city's rich cultural offerings, including museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks, provide an unforgettable experience. Whether you're looking for entertainment options or a place to stay, Abu Dhabi has got it covered.
I am so excited to partner with Abu Dhabi on this journey towards a healthier, more active lifestyle. Together, we will inspire the next generation and create a bright and promising future for sports in Abu Dhabi, Middle East and the World!”
Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We are proud to host the Masters Games - Abu Dhabi 2026, which contributes to strengthening the prestigious global position of the capital, Abu Dhabi, and its prominent role in attracting elite international events.”
Al Awani pointed out that the series is a great and valuable addition to the agenda of sporting events hosted and organised by Abu Dhabi, which confirms international federations’ confidence in the capitals’ infrastructure and talent to turn the event into a success.
The inaugural Masters Games was held in Toronto, Canada, in 1985, and more than 200,000 male and female athletes have participated in the tournament since its inception.