Sport in Dubai has been an inherent part of Emirati culture for a long time. Emanating from the Bedouin culture, compromising traditions was never an option.
Dubai kept the traditional games intact with state of the art modern sports complexes, for both new-age and classic sporting activities to blend in with the city’s architecture.
The city has quickly become somewhat of a sports hub in the last decade, with the variety of sports on offer as well as impeccable facilities available to all, whether you are watching the professionals, or wanting to take part yourselves!
8 Sports to Watch in Dubai
1. Camel Racing
Being the richest traditional race in the world and among the oldest Arabic sporting event, The Camel Race is a must-watch. The best time to visit is during the winter which is October to March.
For more details on camel racing check out our post on Camel Racing in Dubai.
2. Horse Racing
Horse Racing began in the year 1981 with the very first thoroughbred race meeting. A decade later, in 1992, Dubai Racing Club was formed exclusively for horse racing and related activities.
Soon after, in its fourth year, the first Dubai World Cup was held and the legacy continued. The event is conducted at the Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse, which is the world’s largest integrated racing facility with a seating capacity for more than 60,000 people.
Tourists are welcome to try horse riding in equestrian clubs such as Emirates Equestrian Centre, Al Habtoor Riding School, Desert Palm Equestrian Centre and Winners Equestrian Centre. Furthermore, the Equestrian Association offers exclusive therapeutic horse riding lessons to children with differential needs.
3. Dhow Race or Traditional Boat Race
Dhows are traditional Arab sailing vessels that have become a symbol of Arabian Culture.
Beginning in 1991, the iconic Al Gaffal Dhow Race pays tribute to the pearl diving community of Dubai.
The rights to be one amongst the 12-member crew for the race are usually reserved for Emiratis. This makes it even more special for tourists to have a glimpse of the past.
The 23 nautical mile race starting from Sir Bu Nair Island has a checkpoint at Moon Island. Watching white sails on pristine waters of Jumeirah with Burj Al Arab as the backdrop at the finish line is a memory to cherish.
Races usually start early in the morning by 5.30am and end by noon.
What’s more, tourists can ride a Dhow Cruise or an Abra Water-Taxi, which is also a traditional boat, at the Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina, to experience the old-world charm.
History shows that the tribes used to tame falcons for hunting prey. Falcons and Falconry have since been an integral part of Arabian culture for centuries. Furthermore, the sport of Falconry is as old as Arabian civilisation itself.
Fazza Championship for Falconry is the most popular competition among the other Fazza heritage competitions.
Fun Fact: Falcons are so crucial that the UAE is the first country in the world to issue passports for them!
If you’re a keen bird watcher check out our guide to Bird Watching in Dubai.
5. Football in Dubai
Football is widely popular in the region, with the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA) being its governing body in the UAE.
Football fans and enthusiasts will also be happy to know that some of the world’s major football clubs have set up training centres in Dubai.
If you want to catch some live football whilst in Dubai, why not visit The Zabeel Stadium to watch local team Al Wasl play.
6. Tennis and Squash
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are held each year at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, welcoming some of the top names of the game. Dubai is also home to several tennis clubs and academies.
If you fancy watching the likes of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer at the championships you can purchase tickets here.
For anyone interested in playing squash whilst visiting Dubai, check out this website dedicated to Squash in Dubai!
Dubai is home to many polo clubs and has also participated in prestigious international tournaments like Cartier International Dubai Polo Challenge, the UAE Nations Cup, and the Sunset Polo International Cup.
Furthermore, polo enthusiasts of all levels can attend regular games and also try a hand at the polo in Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club or at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.
The best season for polo is from October to May, during the winter season. Dubai also hosts the Dubai Polo Gold Cup, ranking it among the best polo tournament worldwide.
Locations: Dubai Polo Equestrian Club
Prices: Varies with each package. Check the website below.
Websites: Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club
From the DP World Tour Championship to the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic, we have the golfing elite invited for world-class events.
There are also academies for golf for all ages, with indoor and mini-golf facilities where you can try a hand at it. There’s also a fully-floodlit 18-hole Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club that is open for tourists every day of the week.
Prices: AED 595 – AED 1200
Websites: Emirates Golf Club Dubai
For more information on Golf in Dubai check out our post; 9 of The Best Golf Courses in Dubai.
Try The Snow or the Sky in Dubai
Skiing in Dubai with summers of 40-50°C might seem odd, but Dubai has yet again proven nothing is impossible.
In the Mall of the Emirates, home to Ski Dubai, they have an elaborate set up for all kinds of winter sports that should entertain both children and adults.
If you are an experienced Skier, there is an advanced skiing slope as well. This place should be part of your Bucket List since you can also meet the Ski Dubai Penguins! Where else can you find penguins and snow in a shopping mall when its 40°C outside… only in Dubai!
Location: The Mall of the Emirates
Prices: Varies from AED 150 to AED 490 depending on the choice of activity.
Website : https://www.skidxb.com/slope
For all adrenaline-fuelled tourists and skydiving enthusiasts, Dubai invites you to its state-of-the-art indoor simulator skydive. However, this is just training to get you in the mood! The 13,000ft high outdoor skydive leap off an actual plane over the Palm Jumeirah is the real deal.
For the outdoor skydive, there are two options – Palm Islands drop zone and Desert Campus drop zone. The Palm Islands DZ is the premium drop zone with the exquisite view of the Palm Islands and the Desert Campus drop zone is at outskirts towards Al- Ain.
Prices: AED 1499 onwards.
6 Popular Water Sports in Dubai
Parasailing over the deep blue waters of Jumeirah beach while gazing at the horizon with Burj Al Arab is a view etched in memory for a lifetime. The actual journey is mostly for 15-20 minutes while flying 150-200 meters above the sea.
Once you head to the launch deck, you will be towed behind a speedboat harnessed to a para sail with an instructor. Then the adventure kicks in with a boat ride that would soar you high in the open sea.
Prices: AED 298 onwards
Flyboarding is a relatively new addition to the world of aqua sports. You will be guided by a professional on the do’s and don’ts, so be sure to listen.
A high powered jet pack thrusts you above the sea, giving you an exhilarating experience. The learning curve of flyboarding is smoother compared to other solo riding water sports, which adds to its popularity.
Prices: AED 250 onwards
We have a guide on Jet Skiing in Dubai too which also covers where to Flyboard.
3. Kitesurfing and Windsurfing
Dubai has ideal conditions for kite surfing with long beaches and favourable winds, making it a favourite venue for kite surfers. Though kite surfing is permitted in most beaches in Dubai with a certified instructor, Kite Beach is the most sought after for it.
Those who are novice can also learn kitesurfing at Kitesurf School Dubai (KSD), Kite N Surf Nessnass beach and Kite Zone Dubai. However, Kite Zone Dubai is the only centre that trains tandem kite surfing for kids.
Windsurfing is a surface water sport that is a blend of surfing and sailing. It requires a certain amount of technique, balance and speed. Dubai also has academies where you can learn a beginners course in a few weeks. Most kite surfing centres also provide windsurfing activities.
Prices: Kitesurfing – AED 250 onwards
Windsurfing – AED 190 onwards
Check out their official websites for more pricing details.
Website: Kitesurf School Dubai (KSD)
Seabreacher is a two-seater dolphin or shark-shaped adventure pod that can plunge into the sea to a depth of five feet at a speed of 60 mph and soar up to the sky to a height of 20 feet above the sea.
This adrenaline-fuelled aqua sport should not be missed. Anyone who loves adventure can join the ride along with an experienced instructor. You can choose from a 15 min, 30 min or a 1-hour Seabreacher ride.
Prices: AED 500 onwards
5. Aquarium Scuba Diving and Aqua Trek
Not exactly a sport, but still a water activity which must be mentioned here in Dubai!
The Ambassador Lagoon at Atlantis The Palm provides the once in a lifetime experience of Aquarium Scuba diving in an aquarium that holds 11 million litres of water and is home to 65,000 species of marine animals including the sharks, Stingrays and moon jellyfish.
The Aquatrek is the other exciting experience that Atlantis has to offer. With a high-tech underwater helmet, you can breathe and walk at the bottom of the aquarium surrounding yourself with colourful and exotic fishes.
Location : Atlantis, The Palm
Prices: AED 266 onwards, check website to view all packages.
The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, at The Dubai Mall, also has an Aquarium Scuba Diving and Shark diving experience. Where else can you dive in an aquarium filled with marine species like sharks in a shopping mall than Dubai!
Location: The Dubai Mall
Prices: AED 470 onwards
For more information check out The Top 5 Aquariums in Dubai.
Wakeboarding is a modified version surfing or skiing wherein the rider has to balance on a surfboard, towed by a motorboat.
Wakeboarding in Dubai is amongst the most sought after sports at The Beach, JBR. Further, you can also wakeboard at the waters of Jebel Ali, which is highly reviewed with less crowd and calmer waters.
An instructor will guide you on the process, and the package usually includes a wakeboard given for rent. The duration of the actual ride varies as per choice.
Prices: AED 475 onwards
Website : https://searidersuae.com
What’s Next for Sport in Dubai 2022
OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic
Golf enthusiasts and sports lovers gear up! The day and night prestigious golf tournament OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic on the Ladies European Tour (LET) will resume in October 2022. The much-awaited 54-hole golf tournament will be held at the Emirates Golf Club.
Date: 26th to 28th October 2022
Venue: Emirates Golf Club
Website: Dubai Moonlight Classic
Dubai Sports World
The 10th edition of the three-month-long indoor sports event, Dubai Sports World, is all set to welcome the season’s sports enthusiasts at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Novice or professional, players of all levels of skillset can join a match of cricket, football, tennis, badminton, squash and more. You can rent a pitch or court to play with friends, or register for any sports academy of your choice to learn a new skill. Also, don’t forget to check out the Covid-19 rules mentioned in the website below.
Venue: Dubai World Trade Centre, Za’abeel Halls 4-6
Ticket Price: Free entry
Admission time: 8 am till midnight
Dubai Women’s Cycling Challenge
Join the Dubai Women’s Cycling Challenge to cycle for a cause. The proceeds from the event will go to the Al Jalila Foundation’s paediatric program.
Cycling through the scenic landscapes of Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, with a whiff of fresh air is also the much needed break you need from monotony. This exclusive ladies event gives participants a choice of 20, 50 or 70 km distance.
Date: TBC for 2022 (Keep an eye on their website)
Venue: Al Qudra cycle track
Ticket Price: AED 145-195
Admission time: 6.30am
Roy Nasr Memorial Triathlon
In honour of the legacy of the co-creator of TriDuba i- Roy Nasr, the 8th edition of the Roy Nasr Memorial Triathlon will be conducted at Jebel Ali. Participants can choose between the Super Sprint Distance or the Sprint Distance Challenge and can also sign up as a team of three.
Date: 1st April 2022
DP World Tour Championship
The DP World Tour Championship is the richest first prize golf tournament that marks the end of the European Tour Race, making it among the most sought-after titles in golf.
Golf enthusiasts and sports lovers can witness this much-awaited event on the ‘Earth Course’ at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. The top 50 golf players of the world will be invited for this prestigious championship.
JLL Triathlon Series 2023
JLL Triathlon Series, now in its 7th year, is a top-rated event among athletes that features Sprint and Super-Sprint challenges spread across seven categories based on age and is conducted at Jebel Ali. Participants can choose the distance from each of the available types of swim circuit, bike route and running path based on the level of intensity.
Dubai Sports City
Dubai Sports City or DSC is a well-planned neighbourhood that emphasises on residential, leisure and recreational needs of residents.
This development contains three prominent residential areas. Namely, Canal Residence, Victory Heights and Gallery Villas. These multi-venue sports complexes and academies predominantly focuses on cricket, soccer, golf and rugby, ranking it among the top 9 most sought after property according to the Real Estate Market Report for Dubai.
Dubai, being home to the ICC headquarters, the DSC has the ICC Academy that offers both indoor and outdoor training facilities with state of the art amenities. It also houses a 25,000 seat capacity cricket stadium, Dubai International Stadium which houses 5,000 spectators. A Spanish Soccer School and The Els Club Golf Course are also situated here.
The Els Club Golf Course is the first golf park designed by the world-renowned golfer Ernie Els.
Dubai has evolved in all its aspects from infrastructural facilities to their sporting events in just a few decades. Several prestigious matches and tournaments of the sports world are now hosted here.
The city is also keen in churning stalwarts for the future with a plethora of academies now available giving more options for the next generation.
As a tourist, the amount of Sports in Dubai that is on offer is mind blowing. Whether this is a case of attaining your fitness goals or watching the professionals, both are easily attainable.