The ambition is clear – to make Dubai a part of any conversation about the world’s biggest sports events. So far, so good. Fans in the emirate are now treated to huge events every year that attract the best players. So what are the top 10 sporting events not to be missed in the next six months in Dubai? Read on for our round-up.
FINA Swimming World Cup October 7-8 2011, Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, Dubai Bypass Road The event is the first of a seven-leg FINA World Cup series; Jay Benner, the head coach of the UAE swimming team, hopes the event will inspire Emiratis to become future champions. Dubai hosted the Fina World Short-Course Swimming Championships last year featuring the biggest names in the sport, including US multiple gold medal-winner Ryan Lochte. Ticket details TBC; available from the stadium. www.uaeswimming.com/swc/en/home.
Al Wasl v Al Sharjah, UAE Pro-League October 16 2011, Zabeel Stadium It’s not just another football match: this local league fixture will mark the first time that new Argentinian coach Diego Armando Maradona takes his place in the Al Wasl dugout for a league encounter. It remains to be seen how long or successful his stay in Dubai will be, but, for one night at least, he will ensure the football world’s eyes are cast over the emirate. Ticket prices vary; available from Zabeel Stadium. www.alwaslsc.ae.
Dubai Rugby Sevens December 1-3 2011, The Sevens stadium, Al Ain Road More than 1,750 players and 120,000 fans will pour into The Sevens stadium for a feast of rugby later this year, as 16 of the world’s top teams compete to wrestle the Emirates International Trophy from last year’s men’s champions, England. Tickets Dhs230-Dhs3,300; on sale from October. www.dubairugby7s.com.
UIM World Powerboat Championship December 8-10 2011, Jumeirah Beach Residence waterfront Powerboat racing is to rowing boats what Formula One is to a quiet Sunday drive. If you’ve ever wanted to see jet-propelled boats race at speeds of up to 240kph, this is the sport for you. The global tour has stops across Europe, as well as in Abu Dhabi, before climaxing in Dubai. Ticket details TBC. www.class-1.com.
England v Pakistan cricket January 17-February 25 2012, Dubai Sports City Everybody (even newcomers to the sport) should check out a cricket match live in Dubai at least once, and you’re unlikely to find a livelier or more competitive fixture than England versus Pakistan. England are currently on a high after battering India and collecting the Ashes, but a Pakistan side is never easy to beat. Ticket details TBC. www.ecb.co.uk.
Dubai Marathon January 27 2012, Downtown Dubai The world’s richest event of its kind (a theme with Dubai’s sporting events) counts Haile Gebrselassie as a three-time winner and course record-holder. Next year’s race will follow a new course around the Burj Khalifa, hopefully giving runners some nice scenery to take their mind off the pain. But did you know that the Dubai Marathon is also the world’s flattest marathon, with a course high-point of just six metres? No? You do now. Free for spectators; entry fees from Dhs440. www.dubaimarathon.org.
Dubai Desert Classic/ Dubai World Championship Golf February 6-12 2012, Emirates Golf Club; December 11-12 2011, Jumeirah Golf Estates Both these European Tour events were rated in the world’s top five golf tournaments by US sports website Bleacher Report, the Dubai Desert Classic in fifth and the Dubai World Championship third, with its Dhs27 million total prize money. The latter counts Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Seve Ballesteros among its champions. Desert Classic tickets Dhs65-Dhs675; www.dubaidesertclassic.com. World Championship ticket prices vary, www.dubaiworldchampionship.com.
Dubai Tennis Championships February 18-March 3 2012, Aviation Club, Garhoud The hardcourt ATP Tour event has been dominated by the planet’s best player, Novac Djokovic, who has won the past three men’s tournaments. Ahead of winning the 2005 event, champion Roger Federer famously scaled the Burj Al Arab for a practice match with Andre Agassi on the hotel’s 700ft-high helipad. Ticket details TBC. www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.
Gold Cup February 24-March 9 2012, Dubai Polo Club, Arabian Ranches When the final of one of the world’s most glamorous sporting events happens right on our doorstep, we always sit up and take note. This sporting and social event sees many of the world’s best players – with Argentina and England being the usual favourites – squaring up against each other in the sport’s flagship fixture. The ever-popular annual competition is also a jolly good excuse for a picnic. Ticket details TBC. www.dubaipologoldcup.com.
Dubai World Cup racing March 26 2012, Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba Since American thoroughbred Cigar galloped to victory in the first Dubai World Cup in 1996, this ever-popular event has become the richest horse-race meeting in the world. Now worth Dhs36 million, this group one flat race is run on a synthetic surface, with more than 50,000 race-goers attending every year. It features the Dubai Duty Free and the Dubai Sheema Classic, both worth Dhs18 million, making them the two most lucrative races in the world. Tickets free-Dhs3,750 for VIP packages. www.dubaiworldcup.com.