The inaugural Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix took place last Sunday and I was lucky enough to get some complementary tickets to witness the outstanding transformation of what was until now, only part of a strategy and a long-time dream of certain ambitious Arab leaders.

IT, business and other strategies offer little added value until they become reality and many great strategies never progress to reality simply because inadequate consideration and expertise is given to transforming the strategy into reality. Delivery is essential and it requires solid board backing, strong C-level leadership and a capable programme management team.

The F1 event was part of Abu Dhabi's 2030 plan to raise the profile of one of the world's wealthiest cities and make it a benchmark for 21st century capital cities. Whilst Dubai rides the recession with the rest of the world, just an hour's drive away Abu Dhabi continues relentlessly to use its sound independent financial standing to develop itself beyond the black gold reserves.

Transforming large-scale strategy into reality is challenging at the best of times. Having been delivering transformation programmes and projects in the Middle East for a number of years, I can vouch for the fact that, for a number of reasons, delivering here in the UAE is considerably tougher than delivering in Europe. 

This is why I take my hat off to the ADMM (Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management) organisation for what they achieved, not only from an IT perspective, but from every perspective involved in pulling off one of the most high profile sporting events in the world. What's more, the Yas Marina F1 Circuit in Abu Dhabi is more than a simple racetrack, as it is powered by solar energy.

It was the vision, ambition and effort of His Excellency Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak that secured the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and initiated the creation and development of Yas Marina Circuit. It is powerful leaders like this and CEO's such Richard Cregan at ADMM who enable such great visions to become great realities, along with the programme managers they bring in to undertake the critical task of delivery.

The next major event here in Abu Dhabi is the FIFA Club World Cup and I am delivering the IT solution throughout the two stadiums which will host the event between 9 and 19 December this year, followed by a repeat event in late 2010. 

As I type from the UAE Football Federation offices outside Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, many sub-contractors and consultancies are working round the clock to counter the challenges they have faced. Everything from pitch and stadium renovation to my team's design and implementation of an IT solution that will service the world's media and the FIFA organisation has been challenged. But that comes with the territory here.

A test of our readiness will be when Manchester City football team arrive here in a few days to play the UAE. The promotion for next weekend's match is all over the UAE and interest is high, particularly as Abu Dhabi owns Man City. The slogan quite aptly is; "Our Country Vs Our City".

By Rob