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Dubai World Cup is jewel in the UAE’s $2.4bn sports sector

Horse, jockey Reuters/Caren Firouz
The Dubai World Cup is held at the 80,000-capacity Meydan Racecourse
  • Emirate’s horse racing event is being held this Saturday
  • More than 100 top sports events held in Dubai during 2022
  • Events include World Golf Championship and World Tennis League 

The Dubai World Cup, arguably the emirate’s biggest event of the year, takes place on Saturday as the city aims to grow its $2.4 billion sports sector.

The Meydan Racecourse is set to play host to the 27th edition of the meeting, bringing together the world’s best racehorses, jockeys and trainers.

This year’s event is being held during the holy month of Ramadan for the first time in its history.

The prestigious $12 million race and its equally coveted $6 million undercard are expected to draw a huge crowd at the 80,000-capacity venue.

A total of 78 international and 51 Emirati horses from 13 countries, including those from the fabled Godolphin stable, will be contesting for honours.

Established in 1996, the Dubai World Cup further reinforces the city’s rising status as one of the globe’s leading venues for international sporting events which last year contributed 2.3 percent of the city’s GDP.

Sheikh Rashed bin Dalmook Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Racing Club, said: “Dubai’s exceptional infrastructure for horse racing events, combined with its world-class hospitality and deeply-rooted traditions in horse riding, make it an exceptional venue for a global tournament of the scale of the Dubai World Cup. 

“With its vital role in supporting the growth of the horse racing world, Dubai continues to be a major focal point for the global equestrian fraternity.”

The nine-race card in total offers $30.5 million in prize money, with the Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, as its finale, while the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic is the main supporting race.

The Meydan Racecourse features a 1,750m dirt surface and a 2,400m turf course, making it the world’s longest horseracing track, said Sheikh Rashed.

“Further, with the world’s first five-star trackside hotel and largest grandstand spanning half a mile, the racecourse provides one of the most spectacular settings for global horse racing tournaments.”

The Meydan showpiece is the pinnacle of a sports sector that has significantly grown in recent years, with more than 100 international events held during 2022.

According to research from Dubai Sports Council, 103 international events and championships were led by the World Padel Championship, Dubai World Golf Championship and the World Tennis League.

The city also hosted two events in the World Beach Volleyball Championship, the 11th Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup and the Dubai Super Cup, which featured Premier League giants Liverpool and Arsenal, AC Milan and Lyon. 

The number of companies registered in the field of sports events and training camps increased to 700, while sports academies also rose to 400. 

A total of 165 local events were held with participation of 1.77 million people covering 200 nationalities and in the presence of 220,000 fans, boosting the sports tourism sector.

More than one female-only sporting event was held per week last year along with 31 esports competitions. 

A further 12 sports conferences and exhibitions, including the 17th Dubai International Sports Conference and the Globe Soccer Awards, were held.