Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks set to battle in UAE's first NBA games

Sport360 staff 15:08 10/05/2022
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  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) on Tuesday announced that the Atlanta Hawks and the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks will play in October’s landmark opening matches in the Arabian Gulf.

    A pair of historic preseason games are set to be held at Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, October 6 and Saturday, October 8, 2022. Franchises loaded with star names have been selected for the region’s first clashes.

    The Hawks currently feature two-time NBA All-Star Trae Young, 2020-21 NBA rebounding leader Clint Capela and 2018 NBA All-Rookie Second Team members John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic.  The Bucks currently feature two-time Kia NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, three-time NBA All-Star Khris Middleton and three-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Jrue Holiday.

    Added prestige is provided by the fact the two teams met in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, with the Bucks going on to win their first NBA championship in 50 years.

    “We have two great teams,” said NBA Europe and Middle East Managing Director Ralph Rivera during the unveiling at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai’s World Trade Centre.

    “The reigning NBA champions with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks, who played the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Final.”

    He added: “It’s the full NBA experience.

    “Yes, there’s great play by the best players in the world. The athleticism doesn’t get any better.

    “But the NBA is also about the entertainment in the arena. Whether that is our mascots, our hype crews…

    “It is a great experience for kids, as well. Then there is everything that will be happening in Abu Dhabi during the week outside the arena.

    “We’re going to have youth clinics, NBA Cares. There is going to be lots going on.”

    Tickets for The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will go on sale at a later date.  Fans can register their interest in receiving more information about The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022, including exclusive pre-sale access and additional benefits, by visiting

    The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 will be broadcast live in the UAE and across the Middle East and North Africa on beIN SPORTS, The Sports Channel and NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service.  The games will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories around the world on television, digital media and social media.

    The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 are part of a ground-breaking multi-year partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi that earlier this year saw the launch of the first Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, a youth basketball league for 450 boys and girls ages 11-14 from local schools across Abu Dhabi.

    The partnership also includes a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event at Middle East Film & Comic Con.

    The partnership also sees DCT Abu Dhabi, under “Visit Abu Dhabi,” the tourism promotion initiative of the UAE’s capital city, serve as the Official Tourism Destination Partner of the NBA in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and China.

    “The games are extremely important to the growth of the sport,” Rivera said. “Being able to have games for our fans, here, in the UAE, but also the ability for fans in the region to be able to come.

    “Less than one per cent of our fans actually get to go to NBA games. They are watching them on TV.

    “Being able to have the games in the region, that’s priceless. Lifelong memories will be created.

    “Also, we’ll create new fans with the excitement of this, the visibility of this and the opportunity for kids to participate.”

    More than 220 male and female prospects from the Middle East – including five players from the UAE – have participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) or NBA Academy, the league’s elite basketball development programs for top prospects from outside the U.S.  Since 2019, more than 500 boys and girls have also participated in the NBA Basketball School Dubai (UAE), a year-round, tuition-based basketball development programme for boys and girls ages 6-18.

    “We are thrilled to be hosting the UAE’s first NBA games in Abu Dhabi and look forward to welcoming the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks and basketball fans from across the world to discover this incredible city and experience our authentic Emirati culture for themselves,” said DCT Abu Dhabi Director General H.E. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry.

    “Basketball has the ability to unite communities, and the spirit of the game will be felt by players and visitors, both on and off the court. The unveiling of the NBA teams marks an important milestone in our wider partnership with this world-class sports organisation.”

    The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies and systems to support the culture and tourism industries.

    DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.

    For more information about DCT Abu Dhabi and the destination, please visit and For Abu Dhabi Calendar, please visit