UAE Traditional Sports: A Passion for Sporting Activities in the Desert

Rand Mzannar
Published 10 months ago on 15 September, 2023-1162 views
UAE Traditional Sports

UAE traditional sports, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a fascinating country located in the Gulf region of the Middle East. The country is known for its luxurious lifestyle, breathtaking architecture, and thriving economy. It is also home to countless traditional sports, which have been played for centuries in the vast and rugged landscapes of the Arabian desert. Let’s have a closer look at the most 5 popular UAE traditional sports.

Camel Racing

One of the most famous UAE traditional sports is camel racing. This sport has been a part of Emirati culture for centuries and is deeply rooted in the country’s Bedouin heritage. Camel racing events are held throughout the country, with the biggest races taking place during the winter months. These races can attract thousands of spectators from across the region, and the champions of these races are held in high esteem.

Traditionally, camel racing was a sport that was reserved for the wealthy and the ruling class. However, in recent years, the sport has become more accessible to the general public. Today, camel racing is a major industry in the UAE, with hundreds of camels being trained and raced each year.


Falconry hunting
Falconry hunting

Falconry which is a type of hunting, is another popular and the oldest traditional sport in the UAE. This ancient practice involves training falcons to hunt small animals such as hares, foxes, and birds. Falconry has been a part of Emirati culture for over a thousand years and was traditionally practiced by Bedouin nomads as a means of survival.

Today, falconry is still widely practiced in the UAE, and many Emiratis consider it an important part of their cultural heritage. Falconry competitions are held throughout the country, and the best falcons can fetch high prices at auctions.

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Horse Racing

Horse Racing
Horse Racing

Horse racing is another UAE traditional sports that has a long history in the country. The sport was originally introduced to the country by British colonizers in the late 19th century, and since then, it has become a popular pastime for Emirati elites.

The UAE is home to several world-class horse racing events, including the Dubai World Cup, which is one of the richest horse races in the world. The Dubai World Cup attracts top horses and jockeys from around the globe and has helped to enhance the country’s reputation as a major player in the horse racing industry.

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Arabian Wrestling

Arabian Wrestling
Arabian Wrestling

Arabian wrestling, also known as “Al-Azi,” is a traditional form of wrestling that has been practiced in the UAE for centuries. The sport involves two wrestlers who try to throw each other to the ground using a series of holds and techniques.

Arabian wrestling is considered a test of strength, skill, and endurance, and is often accompanied by music and poetry. The sport is one of the most popular UAE traditional sports, and many Emirati wrestlers compete in local and regional tournaments.

Dhow Racing

UAE Dhow Racing
UAE Dhow Racing

Dhow racing is a traditional sailing sport that has been practiced in the UAE for hundreds of years. The sport involves racing traditional Arab sailing vessels called dhows, which are often brightly painted and adorned with flags and banners.

Dhow racing events are held throughout the year, and the sport is particularly popular in the northern Emirate of Ras al Khaimah, where the annual Al Gaffal Dhow Race is held. This race is one of the most important events on the Emirati sporting calendar and attracts dhows and sailors from across the region.

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Less-known UAE traditional sports


The following are other UAE traditional sports that you can enjoy while visiting the country and let’s agree they are the most popular sports worldwide:


Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is known for its love of football. The local football team, Al-Ain, is one of the most successful in the country and is followed by thousands of passionate fans. Football is an integral part of UAE culture and lifestyle, and in many ways, it encapsulates the country’s competitive spirit and enthusiasm for sporting activities.


Golf is another popular sport in the UAE and is played by both locals and expats alike. The country is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, and the annual Dubai Desert Classic is a highlight of the international golfing calendar. With long sunny days and warm temperatures, golf in the UAE is a truly enjoyable experience.


Sailing is also a popular water sport in the UAE, and the country hosts several international sailing competitions each year. The Dubai International Marine Club is one of the best-equipped clubs in the region and attracts sailors from all over the world. With the stunning coastline and clear blue waters of the Gulf, sailing is a popular pastime for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the UAE’s waters.

Horse riding

Horse riding is another traditional pastime in the UAE, with the noble Arabian horse being a symbol of the country’s rich heritage. Riding lessons and horseback riding tours are popular with both locals and tourists, with many stables offering guided tours and trails in the desert.

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What is the oldest UAE traditional sport?


What is the main sport in Dubai?

Horse Racing, Falconry, Camel Racing, Football (Soccer), Cricket, Tennis, Basketball, Golf.

In conclusion, UAE traditional sports are an important part of Emirati cultural heritage, and they play a significant role in shaping the country’s national identity. From camel racing and falconry to horse racing and Arabian wrestling, these sports offer a window into the rich and diverse culture of the UAE.

As Emiratis continue to embrace their cultural heritage, it is likely that these traditional sports will continue to thrive and evolve, adapting to changing times and new challenges while remaining true to their roots.

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