Looking back at Bayern Munich's 2004 Dubai training session with Sheikh Hamdan - Timeframe

The German club arrived in the city with a squad of stars including Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed with German goalkeeper and Bayern Munich captain Oliver Kahn during the team's Dubai training camp in 2004. Getty Images
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Dubai has become a favourite with international football clubs when choosing destinations for their warm-weather training in the winter.

The trend dates back at least 20 years, when German football club Bayern Munich were invited to the city by Dubai’s tourism authority.

The six-time Champions League winners arrived on January 6, 2004 for five days of training sessions and friendly matches.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, who was 21 years old at the time, attended one of the team’s training sessions.

Sporting a Bayern Munich top with German-Turkish player Mehmet Scholl’s name on the back, Sheikh Hamdan trained with the team and met club officials.

At the time, Bayer Munich’s team was packed with names now considered legends of the game, including Oliver Kahn, then aged 34 and the team's captain.

Also on the trip were German midfielder Michael Ballack, two years before of his move to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea Football Club, Peruvian player Claudio Pizarro, French left-back Bixente Lizarazu and Canada's Owen Hargreaves.

The club trained at Rashid Stadium which was Al Ahli’s ground at the time. Al Ahli have since been merged with Al Shabab and Dubai FC to become Shabab Al Ahli Club.

Bayern Munich faced second division Bundesliga side FC Energie Cottbus in a friendly match during their Dubai camp.

Warm weather training in the UAE

Warm-weather training has become a seasonal staple for some of the biggest teams in Europe. Every year, teams arrive in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to train together in the sun, as well as relax and bond away from the pressure of the season.

Speaking to Bein Sports in December, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed that his team would return to the UAE capital for a camp.

“We go there to train in better weather, to be together – training, training and training to prepare for the second part of the season,” he said.

The Spanish manager also credited last year’s camp for being a positive factor in the team’s treble-winning season, saying: “Last season we were there in the World Cup, and it had an incredible impact for the staff and everyone. The five titles [we won] prove it.”

English Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal, have all made regular long stops in the country in January to unwind and train ahead of the second half of the season. North London team Arsenal began its latest warm-weather stint in Dubai on Tuesday and will be training in the emirate until January 16.

"We have regularly travelled to Dubai over the past few years during the chilly British winters seeking training conditions in warm weather, and this year’s opportunity provides the squad with the chance to work hard together ahead of the second half of the campaign," according to an Arsenal team statement.

Updated: January 12, 2024, 6:01 PM