Traditional sports

Traditionally, the Emiratis engaged in falconry and racing horses, camels, salukis and dhows as a way of survival. However, with changing times and laws these activities are now practised purely as a regulated sport.    



At the end of the annual hunting season, falcons undergo medical check-ups at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and only the healthy birds are let into the wild. Others are treated at the hospital. Each falcon is micro-chipped for identification and protection.


Equestrian sports

Equestrian sports in the UAE include endurance, show jumping, eventing, dressage and racing. The late H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan started endurance rides in the UAE. Even today, several members of the royal families in the UAE passionately pursue equestrian sports.


Both H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his son H. H. Sheikh Hamdan are exceptionally gifted endurance riders and have won several international endurance rides. H. H. Sheikh Mohammed owns the Godolphin stable in Dubai and runs Darley, the global thoroughbred breeding operation from the United Kingdom.


Sheikha Latifa bint Ahmed Al Maktoum is a leading name in international show jumping.


Camel racing

Camel racing was mainly staged to mark important social occasions such as wedding ceremonies, community festivals or the visits of Sheikhs to Bedouin villages. Today, it is an organised sport involving valuable prizes and cash awards worth millions of Dirhams.

The local breed – Mahaliyat, the Omani breed – Omaniyat, the Sudanese camels – Sudaniyat and the interbred – Muhajanat are the main breeds used in the racing competitions.



Bull-fighting still takes place in the emirate of Fujairah. It is a weekly activity practised during the cooler months. 


Modern sports

The modern era brought several sports to the UAE such as football, golf, polo, tennis, rugby, sailing, yacht and motor racing. The Emiratis are zealous fans of football.


The UAE regularly hosts championships, which involve renowned international players, big rewards and huge public following. Some of the major championships include Arabian Gulf League, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship,  The Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Dubai Desert Classic, Dubai Tennis Championships, Rugby Sevens and Dubai World Cup.


The UAE is the host for several international cricket tournaments.


Recreational and adventure activities

Popular recreational and adventure activities include cycling, land sailing, quad biking, dune bashing, sandboarding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, ice-skating and snow skiing.


Dubai Marathon is an annual event in Dubai that attracts thousands of enthusiasts and professional runners. The prize money involves a few hundred thousand US dollars.   


Useful resources for further reading:


·         General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare

·         National Olympic Committee

·         Sports in the UAE – UAE Interact website

·         Sports in Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi government portal

·         Sports in Dubai – Dubai government portal 

·         Sport activities in Ras Al Khaimah – Ras Al Khaimah government portal

·         Sport clubs and organisations – UAE Interact website

·         Sports associations, federations, committees, councils and clubs – General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare

·         Zayed Sports City

·         Dubai Sports City



·         Festival of Falconry



·         Sheikh Mohammed, the equestrian – Sheikh Mohammed's website

·         Emirates Racing Authority

·         Emirates Equestrian Federation

·         Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club

·         Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition

·         Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club

·         Dubai Polo Club

·         Dubai Polo Academy

·         Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club

·         Dubai Equestrian Club

·         Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club

·         Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club

·         Emirates Equestrian Centre

·         Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club



·         Al Dhafra Festival



·         United Arab Emirates Football Association


Motor sports

·         Emirates Motor Sports Federation

·         Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE)

·         Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

·         Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

·         Dubai Autodrome

·         Dubai Motor City


Marine sports

·         UAE Sailing & Rowing Federation

·         Fujairah International Marine Club

·         Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club

·         Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club

·         Volvo Ocean Race Abu Dhabi

·         UAE Dragon Boat

·         Dubai Marina Yacht Club

·         Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club

·         Emirates Diving Association

·         Umm Al Quwain Marine Club



·         Emirates Golf Federation

·         Golf in the Abu Dhabi emirate

·         Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club

·         Emirates Golf Club

·         Meydan Golf

·         The Address Montgomerie Dubai

·         Al Badia Golf Club



·         Ski Dubai


Ice Skating

·         Ice rinks in Zayed Sports City and Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi   

·         Dubai ice rink, The Dubai Mall



·         Emirates Cricket Board

·         Desert Premier League Twenty20 Cricket Tournament

·         Abu Dhabi Cricket Club

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