Sport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Sport in UAE

The United Arab Emirates is fast becoming a go to destination for Sports Tourist’s, with the country hosting a number of high profile events such as the glamorous Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the wealth of the Dubai World Cup and the prestigious DP World Tour Championship.

For active tourists, there are now 20 courses all within a 2 hour radius of Dubai to choose from. Dubai also offers the rather unique opportunity to go skiing, with the indoor Ski Dubai resort part of the Mall of the Emirates.

Key Information

Capital – Abu Dhabi
Currency – UAE dirham (AED)
Official Languages – Arabic
Population – 9.9 million
Time – GMT+4

Sport in the United Arab Emirates

Football in the United Arab Emirates

Football is the most popular sport in the United Arab Emirates. The top professional competition is the UAE Pro League, with Al Ain the most successful club with 13 league titles and winning the AFC Champions League in 2003. Well known international players to play in the country include Fabio Cannavaro and David Trezeguet, with Diego Maradona also coaching in the country.

The UAE national team qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first and only time in 1990. The country has hosted the AFC Asian Cup twice – in 1996 and 2019, with the team reaching the semi-finals in 2015 and 2019.

Golf in the United Arab Emirates

Golf is becoming an ever popular sport in the country for Sports Tourists, with there now being 20 courses.

The Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai hosts the DP World Tour Championship, the climax of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai featuring the leading 60 players. Two other high profile European Tour events are held in the country in January and February – the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

Golf Courses in the United Arab Emirates

Motorsport in the United Arab Emirates

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has hosted the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009, predominantly featuring as the season climax of the Formula One season.

The Dubai Autodrome has also featured top level motorsport such as the FIA GT Championship, A1 Grand Prix and Dubai 24 Hour.

Cricket in the United Arab Emirates

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the United Arab Emirates due to the large expatriate population in the country. The country has participated in the Cricket World Cup twice before, in 1996 and 2015.

There have been a number of international matches hosted in the country at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The world governing body of cricket, the International Cricket Council is based in Dubai.

Cricket Grounds in the United Arab Emirates

Tennis in the United Arab Emirates

The Dubai Tennis Championship is a men’s and women’s professional tennis tournament that takes place at the end of February each year. The event takes place on the outdoor hard courts at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre and has been won by a number of top players including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Martina Hingis.

The Abu Dhabi Open is a women’s professional tennis tournament that from 2021 is part of the WTA Tour. The event is held at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex and prior to 2020 was an exhibition event known as the World Tennis Championship, with previous winners including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams.

Horse Racing in the United Arab Emirates

Horse racing is a popular sport in the country, with meetings held between October and April in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

The Dubai World Cup Carnival at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai is a series of seven race meetings, held annually between January and March and culminating in the Dubai World Cup, one of the world’s richest horse races.

Camel Racing in the United Arab Emirates

Camel Racing is a traditional sport in the United Arab Emirates, with there being 15 racetracks in the country. Racing is held between October and April, with races taking place early mornings on Fridays and Saturdays.

Rugby Union in the United Arab Emirates

The Sevens stadium in Dubai hosts the annual Dubai Sevens, which features as a round of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Travelling to the United Arab Emirates & Visa

Dubai International Airport is the primary airport in the UAE, being the hub for the country’s flag carrier – Emirates, as well as the low-cost carrier flydubai. There are over 140 airlines that offer flights to over 270 destinations across all continents of the world from the airport.

Abu Dhabi International Airport is the second largest in the UAE, being the hub for the country’s second flag carrier – Etihad Airways. There are over 30 airlines that offer flights to over 120 destinations in 60 countries from the airport.

Thinking of flying to the United Arab Emirates? Search & book your flights through Skyscanner.

Entry Requirements & Visas

There are a number of countries which the UAE grant visas on arrival, for stays of up to 30 days or 90 days.

If you are a UK citizen, you can view the UK’s government latest advice on entry requirements to the UAE by clicking here. For other passport holders, consult your own government’s travel advice for entry to the UAE.

Travelling around the United Arab Emirates

Car Hire – Hiring a car is a relatively inexpensive way of travelling around the United Arab Emirates, meaning you can dictate your own itinerary and pace. There are many companies offering car hire and can be found across most major towns, with one-way hire often available.

Thinking of hiring a car in the UAE? Search & book through Skyscanner here.

Where to stay in the United Arab Emirates

Use TripAdvisor to find some great places to stay in the United Arab Emirates by clicking here.


United Arab Emirates City Guides

Guides to some of the United Arab Emirates’ major cities/districts and most popular stops for watching Sport in the UAE are available below:

Abu Dhabi


Last Updated on July 15, 2021 by Sports Tourist

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