The GAA is set to hold a special international GAA Championship in the UAE

The GAA has confirmed that it will host the first ever GAA World Games in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year. The GAA World Games, held in partnership with Etihad Airways, will include teams from all over the world, including New York, Boston and other American cities, as well as teams from Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The World Games will take place in March and coincide with the Middle East GAA Championships, which will take place the same weekend. GAA players from Ireland and some of the cooler climates will be in for a challenge as March weather in Abu Dhabi is warm, with temperatures averaging in the mid-80s.

The weekend-long event will include a plethora of cultural events. An Irish business conference will take place immediately before it.

In a December press release, President of the GAA Liam Ó Néill said, “I am delighted to announce details of another event that underlines the continued internationalization of our games… The growth of organized championship events around the globe in recent years has been truly staggering and they all occupy their own special place in the GAA calendar… I believe that in years to come we will look back on this event as being of huge importance in helping to connect our international units in a way that will become the norm into the future.”

The announcement of the first ever GAA World Games follows years of considerable growth in GAA clubs outside of Ireland. While the GAA has been a fixture in Irish communities in New York, London and Melbourne for generations, in recent years clubs in more diverse, non-traditionally Irish cities have experienced a huge boost from younger emigrants. Clubs in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Kuala Lumpur and many other places are growing rapidly, with a steady influx of young Irish men and women, as well as non-Irish players signing up to get a taste of the Gaelic games. All eyes will be on Abu Dhabi this March to see how well the first World Games pans out. If it is a success we may well see the start of a new GAA tradition.