Dubai World Cup: 25 years of elite horse racing
Dubai World Cup, which has completed 25 years, has showcased the emirate to the global racing community. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: A diverse calendar of international sports events, combined with a range of world class infrastructure and facilities, has made Dubai’s sports sector a key driver of growth for the city’s tourism industry.

What sets Dubai apart as an attractive sporting hub is the superior spectator excitement and experience shared by visitors and residents from over 200 different nationalities; access to tournaments featuring the world’s best sporting icons; year-round availability of world-leading sports venues such as stadiums and golf courses; tourism infrastructure such as hotels catering to the varied visitor profile, in addition to the unique destination offering.

Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism and top global brand, adidas, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that enables Dubai’s residents and visitors to access a range of lifestyle, retail and sports events and activations to encourage everyone to adopt a healthier lifestyle while prioritising their safety and well-being.


Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, said: “Dubai, without a doubt, is a leading sports destination - not just in the region, but also globally, thanks to the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the guidance of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai and Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council.”

“Our visionary leadership understands that sport plays a big role in the growth and appeal of a truly global city. Sport is also an important element in the tourism industry and sports tourism has been growing at an impressive rate. So we in Dubai have been building and investing in our sports industry for more than 40 years. Today, we can boast of many sporting landmarks. We also have some of the world’s best golf courses, including one in Hatta, that have turned Dubai into one of the leading golf tourism destinations in the world.”

Collin Morikawa of the US holds the winners' baton during the awards ceremony of the Dubai DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai
Golfing destination: Colin Morikawa receives the mace for DP World Tour Championship from Sheikh Mansoor. Image Credit: AFP

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, said: ‘‘As a role model for recovery in the events sector, Dubai continues to host global sporting events that play a pivotal role in the city’s tourism growth and further enhance our efforts to achieve the goal set by our visionary leadership to make Dubai the most preferred and visited destination in the world. Following the successful citywide management of the pandemic, top sports events, along with an array of festivals and leisure and business events, are also making a significant contribution towards showcasing Dubai as a city that is open, vibrant and safe.”

Global sports hub

Apart from substantial investments in the field of football, the most popular sport in the UAE, Dubai originally rose to prominence as a global sports hub by staging the world’s biggest horseracing event, the Dubai World Cup since 1996. With a purse of US$35m, the Dubai World Cup is now a much-awaited highlight of the city’s sports scene, drawing thousands of visitors to Dubai in March each year.

Each year, Dubai hosts the best of the European Tour Players for the prestigious DP World Tour Championship and the grand finale of the Race to Dubai. This year, fans had free admission to tread the greens and stand along the crisp fairways designed by two-time Open Champion Greg Norman and were able to enjoy the Ultimate Fan Experience, which grants access to the famed 16th Green hospitality lounge and its preferential viewing platform.

Australia won the T20 World Cup in Dubai
Twenty-20 vision: Dubai and UAE became the first Arab nation to host a major ICC championship like the T20 World Cup. Image Credit: Reuters

Cricket headquarters

After almost a hundred years of being headquartered in Lords, England, the International Cricket Council moved its headquarters to Dubai. The 2021 Indian Premier League, one of the most-watched sporting events, was held across three venues in the UAE including Dubai International Cricket Stadium, which was also the venue for some of the matches and the final of the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, followed passionately by billions of cricket fans.

One of the city’s most popular sporting events and another favourite of rugby fans around the world, is the Emirates Airline Dubai 7s that will take place from December 2-4, 2021 at The Sevens Stadium.

Every year, the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) encourages Dubai residents and visitors to complete 30 minutes of activity every day, for 30 days. From October 29 to November 29, 2021, the latest edition of DFC offers an action-packed calendar of free classes, sporting events, group workout sessions and virtual tutorials. Key DFC highlight, the 14km Dubai Ride. Highlighting the power and popularity of sport within Dubai, the highly anticipated Dubai Run will be held on 26 November. Open for runners of all ages and abilities, the event features 5km and 10km routes that will begin on Sheikh Zayed Road at the spectacular Museum of the Future.

The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, which takes place in early 2022, is another much-awaited fixture, attracting more than 30,000 participants annually.