Abu Dhabi has been awarded the UCI's Bike City label and awarded the the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships ©Getty Images

Abu Dhabi has been awarded the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Bike City label in recognition of its efforts to promote the sport, while the governing body has confirmed the United Arab Emirates’ city will stage the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships.

Abu Dhabi becomes the first city in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded the UCI Bike City label.

The UCI Bike City label, relaunched in 2015, seeks to support and reward cities and regions which host major UCI cycling events.

The award also seeks to highlight cities which are investing in developing community cycling and related infrastructure and programmes.

Abu Dhabi was presented with the label at a ceremony held on Al Hudayriyat Island, described by the UCI as a world-class cycling hub.

The island has a 28-kilometres waterside cycling track, while there is a 40km track at Al Wathba in the desert.

The UCI claimed cyclists have unlimited access to an established urban cycling network, with plans in place for further upgrades and extensions.

There is also a 300 kilometre cycling network, which the city is seeking to extend to around 1,000km.

Part of the extension will comprise the Abu Dhabi Loop, a 109km segregated cycle-way linking key destinations around the city.

Abu Dhabi also plans to build Velodrome Hudayriyat, which will have spectator capacity of 3,500.

Abu Dhabi’s cycling community are also able to train for free twice a week on the Yas Marina Circuit Formula One track on Yas Island.

The UCI praised the city in the United Arab Emirates for its commitment to the governing body’s cycling for all programme, which encourages people around the world to make cycling a part of their everyday lives as a means of transport, leisure and sporting activity.

The programme aims to promote people living a more active, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

"The UCI Bike City label supports cities and regions that not only host major UCI cycling events but also invest in developing cycling through programmes and infrastructure," said UCI President David Lappartient.

"We are happy to announce Abu Dhabi as the latest addition to this list.

"Designating Abu Dhabi as the Middle East and Asia’s first UCI Bike City underlines the diverse initiatives being taken to promote cycling and encourage participation across the Emirate.

"Abu Dhabi has a clear vision, master plan and strategy to promote cycling across the community and to make the sport accessible to everyone."

The UCI confirmed after the ceremony that Abu Dhabi will host the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships.

Four editions of the event have been held to date.

Chengdu in China hosted the annual event from 2017 to 2019, before the 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montpellier in France staged this year’s World Championships.

The World Championships features BMX Freestyle Park, BMX flatland and trials events.

Abu Dhabi will also host the 2028 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, which is contested by amateur cyclists.

Abu Dhabi is a regular host of stages on the UAE Tour ©Getty Images
Abu Dhabi is a regular host of stages on the UAE Tour ©Getty Images

Aref Hamad Al Awani, secretary general of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, welcomed the UCI’s decision to grant the Bike City Label.

"Achieving the UCI Bike City status acknowledges our ongoing efforts to encourage cycling across Abu Dhabi through emirate-wide commitments that expand our network of tracks, groups, events and activities to enable increased cycling adoption for sport, leisure and mobility," he said.

The Abu Dhabi Cycling Club is also based in the city and is operated by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which is involved in organising and hosting elite-level competitions and community events.

The Abu Dhabi Government has launched Bike Abu Dhabi, an enabling platform designed to advance the development of Abu Dhabi as a leading global cycling hub, and increase uptake of the sport as a means of mobility, leisure and sport.

It is claimed the efforts are part of a wider plan to advance cycling as a more environmentally friendly form of transport, helping to drive sustainability, underlined by the country’s bid to host COP28 in 2023.

A total of 20 cities and regions have now received the label to date.

The Norwegian city of Bergen and the Dutch regions of Drenthe and Limburg-Valkenburg received the status in 2016, followed by Fyn in Denmark, Gelderland and Woensdrecht in the Netherlands, Heusden-Zolder in Belgium and Yorkshire in Britain the following year.

St-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France and Vancouver in Canada earned the Bike City label in 2018, with Denmark’s Copenhagen receiving the status of the second time in 2019.

Glasgow in Britain, France’s capital Paris and Tirol in Austria were also recipients in 2019.

This year has seen Fayetteville in the United States, Flanders in Belgium, Sakarya in Turkey, Val di Sole in Italy, and Wollongong in Australia receive the status.