The Sevens in Dubai will once again host the Japanese FA Gulf Cup this weekend as Japanese-only amateur football teams head to the UAE to compete for the trophy.
The one-day tournament has been going since 2008 and this year's edition will see 10 teams from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and one from India head to the iconic rugby venue.
The tournament aims to find the best Japanese team in the Gulf while providing players with an opportunity to communicate with other Japanese colleagues living in the region.
The round-robin tournament will involve players aged 17 to 50 playing in a series of 15-minute games.
Looking to defend their title at the FA Gulf Cup will be the Dubai Blues, who last year became the fifth team in six years from Dubai to win the tournament.
Egypt, the only other country to have a team win the title, will not be featuring in the tournament this year.
The competition will run from 12.30pm until 7.30pm on Pitches 4 and 5.
The UAE has become an increasingly popular destination for European football clubs seeking rest bite from the freezing winter weather, but now it seems even teams from warmer climates are descending on the Gulf Nation in order to take advantage of the excellent facilities on offer.
FC Dallas players and staff travelled some 8000 miles to become the first Major League Soccer team to train in the UAE as they prepare for the start of the new season.
The Texan team arrived in Abu Dhabi on 30 January and have certainly made the most of their trip to the capital; playing in a friendly match against Swedish side BK Haken, going into the desert for some dune surfing and visiting Ferrari World.
Al Jazira have played hosts to the Toros and there was some hope that the two sides would be able to play a friendly in the impressive Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium but they were unable to schedule a date.
However, it is still the clubs intention to play against the AGL side on their next visit to the country, which is likely to be at the start of next year.
It is somewhat surprising that an MLS side has waited so long to make the trip to the UAE but following the recent acquirement of New York City FC by Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, there could well be more of a link-up between the two leagues.
The FC Dallas players have certainly appeared to have enjoyed their time in the capital, with several of the squad taking to social media to reveal how impressed they have been with their trip to the UAE.
Preseason can be a grind for sure but the experiences we gain and sights we see are second to none. #AbuDhabi
— Chris Seitz (@Seitzy1) February 6, 2014
— Victor Ulloa (@ulloa_victor) February 5, 2014
While a number of European clubs and even international teams have made the trip in recent years, the positive experience that FC Dallas have enjoyed could lead to more MLS sides deciding to move their winter training camps to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Yousef Al Otaiba, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States, was key in helping arrange the trip and he is hopeful that FC Dallas will be the first of many sides to come to the region.
"This is a great example of the continued growth of the dynamic relationship between both countries,” said Al Otaiba. “FC Dallas will be the first American professional soccer team to come to the UAE and they are a great organisation to pioneer this effort."
FC Dallas are currently preparing for the 2014 season opener against Montreal on March 8 at the Toyota Stadium.
A host of international and club teams are heading to Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi to stay at their top of the game during the winter months.
Over 400 professional footballers from five international teams and seven leading club sides have descended on the UAE to utilise the impressive facilities and ideal climate on offer.
Bundesliga outfits Wolfsburg and Hamburg have been joined by Newcastle United of the Premier League, with all three taking part in training camps at Zayed Sports City.
The clubs' presence in the capital comes as no surprise, with the venue becoming a destination for football teams since 2010.
In that time the Sports City has hosted numerous training session and friendlies, including Brazil against Iran and the UAE versus Manchester City.
The increase in demand for the state-of-the-art facilities has seen the number of pitches on offer at the Zayed Sports City increase to 16.
This year, as well as club sides, the UAE capital has welcomed Sweden, Norway, Poland, Iceland and Moldova to its warm conditions.
Speaking after a friendly against Poland, Norway manager Per-Mathias Høgmo, admitted he was delighted with the organisation of the trip and that he would have no hesitation in returning.
“We have had an excellent stay here,” he said.
“Of course we would come back. The facilities have been great and the hospitality has been excellent.
"The pitches at the training grounds are very high class – the grass is excellent. It is the same here in the stadium; the pitch is very high class.
“It has been very important for us to play games against good opposition as we have done here. The organisation has been very good.”
Many of the team’s trips are organised by Royal Concorde Sports Management (RCSM), who have been bringing teams to the UAE for a number of years.
“All of the international friendlies that have happen here this January have been organised by us. It’s something we are very proud of,” said Souhaib Mishmish, CEO of RCSM.
“We are very proud to be able to bring these teams to this great country and show what the UAE has to offer.
“The facilities here at Zayed Sports City are something special. I have been all over the world and these compare to the best that I’ve seen.
“We have big plans for the future and we look forward to bring more teams to the UAE in the future.”