UAE loves its football (soccer for my American friends). There are different types of football fans – those who support local clubs (e.g. Al Ain, Al Nasr), the UAE national team and international football clubs. The last category is dominated by fans of English clubs.
2018/19 season has been great for the English clubs. All four teams competing in the UEFA Champions League Final and UEFA Europa League Final belong to the English Premier League. UEFA Champions League Final is being held in Madrid, and the tickets are sold out.
However, for the Europa League finals in Baku, Azerbaijan, tickets are still available. This is strange given two London clubs – Arsenal and Chelsea are competing in the finals. These are two of the most decorated clubs in EPL and have a huge fan following.
Perhaps, this is because the connectivity between London and Baku is not the best.
Bad luck for folks in London means an opportunity for those in UAE. Read along.
Travelling from UAE to Baku
Baku is very well connected with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Etihad, Air Arabia and flyDubai operate direct flights to Baku. Even Azerbaijan Airlines – the national airline – has started service to Dubai. Baku is only a 3 hour flight from UAE and is in the same time zone.
Europa League Final is being held on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 11:00 pm local time. At the time of writing, Azerbaijan Airlines is offering great fares from Dubai. You could leave at noon of May 29 and return in 23 hours! Or perhaps, you would like to extend your stay in Baku for the weekend.
This is the icing on the cake. As per my understanding, if you are a UAE resident, you can get visa on arrival at Baku. This is regardless of your nationality.
As of July 26, anyone with valid residency in the UAE can obtain a tourist visa for one month upon arrival at the airports of Azerbaijn
— UAE Embassy in Baku (@UAEEmbassyAZ) July 27, 2018
However, I would strongly suggest re-confirming this with the embassy before you travel.
In times such as these, your hotel loyalty points can get you great value. Sadly, all big-chain hotels are sold out on May 29th. This includes Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Wyndham and GHA.
So you would have to look for a hotel or Airbnb and likely pay with cash.
The other alternative is to crash at the airport lounge. These are the lounges at Baku airport
- Absheron Lounge (Terminal 1) – Accepts most lounge programs
- Baku Club (Terminal 1) – Accepts most lounge programs
- Salam Lounge (Terminal 1) – Accepts most lounge programs
- Mugam Lounge (Terminal 2) – Accepts most lounge programs
Will you be travelling to Baku to watch the Europa League Final? Let us know in comments.