2023 sees the 16th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, famously known for its breathtaking race route that…
UAE is your perfect sporting destination whether you like participating or watching sports from a distance.
Like other nations, the UAE is well equipped with sports and state-of-the-art facilities, including pitches, stadiums, tracks, and courts that can accommodate and allow tourists and citizens to enjoy various sports at their own leisure.
Not to mention, UAE hosts a variety of sports tournaments and events you can enjoy every year. From falconry and camel racing to horse riding, there are many traditional but fun sports in the UAE. These sports also play a significant role in promoting tourism in the UAE.
Let’s explore some of the UAE’s most popular Emirati traditional sports.
It is only fitting that we start this list with falconry, one of the UAE’s oldest and most traditional sports. For over 4,000 years, the citizens of UAE have practiced falconry as a competitive sport and leisure activity.
Most believe falconry is more of an art than a sport, as it allows individuals to exercise honor, nobility, courage, and respect towards nature and animals. These are some of the most prized Arab values that garner the sport as a prestigious event.
Falconry enthusiasts often travel from far to see the marvel of camaraderie between a saker falcon or a Golden Eager with their falconers. The sport also seeks to raise awareness against endangering the species and stopping the illegal trade of falcons.
Suppose you are a traveler visiting Abu Dhabi; consider going to the Abu Dhabi International Hunting & Equestrian exhibition held annually between September and October and enjoy watching the sport.
In classic mythology, archery is believed to be a sport of the gods, especially the Greek and Roman gods of love. As divine as it is, archery is a prestigious and very traditional sport practiced in the Middle East, especially in the UAE.
The sport dates back 2,000 years when Babylonians and Assyrians ruled the land. The sport involves an individual wielding a bow and arrow. Although it was previously used for hunting and warfare, today, it is only used to showcase archery skills.
In the UAE, many revered archery for its religious significance to Muslims. Luckily, Prophet Muhammad encouraged his followers to practice archery as it showed virility and power.
That said, if you are in Dubai, consider visiting the Al Maha Desert Resort and enjoy some luxurious archery experience.
Camels are magnificent animals well-suited for desert habitats. They have since been considered a source of luxury and nutrition.
That said, camel racing is another traditional sport practiced and loved in the UAE.
Some camels, especially the Sudania and Omani camels, are used for racing during special events such as festivals and wedding ceremonies. However, the sport also takes place on race tracks, where spectators can watch and cheer their preferred camels from the terraces.
The famous Al Sawan Came Race Track in Ras Al Khaimah is a great place to start.
Did you know Arabian horses are some of the most recognizable and oldest breeds globally? So, it is only fitting that horse racing is an essential and very traditional sport practiced in the UAE.
From a cultural perspective, horse riding in the UAE holds a religious view where riding horses is known to improve physical and mental health.
That said, horse sporting activity is quite common in Dubai, where some of the richest horse racing tournaments are held annually, the Dubai World Cup.
Thus, residents and tourists in the UAE can sign up for horse riding lessons to continue with the cultural practice in some of the great equestrian amenities in the Emirates. These include the Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club or the Jebel Ali Equestrian Club.
Free diving is a widespread traditional sport in the UAE. It involves diving underwater without any breathing gear. Although a dangerous sport, it has become a structured pillar of the UAE’s economy.
The sport is likened to the old pearl diving industry, where individuals would dive deep into the Arabian Peninsula waters to look for precious pearls.
However, only free diving is practiced today and is most prevalent in Dubai as a recreational and fun activity. You can visit the Deep Dive Dubai and have the experience of a lifetime.
Saluki racing is another traditional Emirati sport in the UAE. It involves some of the oldest dog breeds called the Saluki. Traditionally, these dogs were used for hunting small animals, including jackals, foxes, and hares.
However, today they are trained to run against each other on race tracks because they can run up to 60 kilometers per hour.
Saluki racing championships are pretty common amongst the Arab heritage, translating to Saluki racing festivals held in Abu Dhabi.
In the UAE, traditional boat sailing involves the dhow, a wooden boat famous for fishing and taking pearl divers to the deep waters.
Nowadays, modern dhows are well-equipped and great at sailing along the Arabian Peninsula coastline. For example, tourists can enjoy a boat sailing in Dubai, especially at Dubai Creek, where they can enjoy a fun night out.
Although the UAE is a region with vast sand, deserts, and oasis terrain, it is also one of the biggest tourism destinations globally. It has world-class sporting infrastructures suitable for traditional and modern sporting events.
These seven Emirati traditional sports practiced in the UAE emerged because of the strong traditional culture and practices over the years.
So, if you are a tourist needing to experience a different sporting culture, consider UAE as your travel destination and experience some of their most amazing sporting cultures.