Dubai is home to some incredible sporting action. Whatever your game, team or taste, there’s a reason to cheer here.
Check out our guide to the biggest sport in the next three months.
Nov 17 - Nov 21: Pakistan v New Zealand (cricket bilateral series)
Watch two of the top international teams play in this series of five test matches. Ranked sixth in the world, New Zealand will be hoping to give fourth-placed Pakistan several runs for their money as they take the crease. The bilateral series is a part of the Future Tours Programme prepared by the International Cricket Council. With free general admission, this is a great day out for cricket fans of either side, or neither.
Free general admission. Dhs350 VIP seating. Dubai International Stadium, Dubai Sports City, www.ticketmaster.ae (04 425 1111).
Nov 19 - Dec 6: Dubai Motor Festival
If you like your sport in top gear and prefer the smell of petrol to the grass of the pitch, then be sure to get involved with this 18-day festival of all things motor sport. See the best and latest models of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and other sports cars. The festival incorporates the largest convoy of super, luxury and classic cars and bikes in the region. The Motor Village event will see Meydan transformed into a hub of engine-revving activities. Boy-racers will be dazzled by Infiniti’s light show conducted entirely by cars – a world first.
Free to spectate. 2pm-8pm, Meydan, www.dubaigrandparade.com (056 261 7714).
Nov 20- Nov 23: DP World Tour Championship 2014
Some of the biggest names in golf play in the final part of the European Tour’s International Schedule. Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, to name a few, will be teeing off at Jumeirah Golf Estates for a shot at taking the lead ahead of The Race to Dubai, where the season’s leader stands a chance to win a bonus fund of Dhs18 million.
Jumeirah Golf Estates, Al Fay Road, Dubai Sports City, www.europeantour.com (04 340 0066).
Nov 21 - Nov 23: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Now in its sixth year, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the biggest motor sports event in the Middle East, attracting not just F1-loving petrolheads, but VIPs and socialites from all over the world. Yas Marina Circuit is one of the most demanding tracks on the F1 calendar, so weather you visit for the love of the sport or to spot celebs, you’ll be in for a treat. Already 90 percent of the berths on the marina are sold out, so this year promises a massive turn out. When the tarmac clears and the races are over, the stars will come out to entertain at the post-race concerts, and this year Pharrell Williams, Armin van Buuren, and The Who will be dazzling the crowds.
From Dhs395. 9am-9pm. Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.yasmarinacircuit.com (800 927).
Nov 21 - Dec 2: 7 Emirates Run
Cheer on the seven teams of seven runners who are taking on the 575 kilometre run across the UAE in a bid to raise funds for the Al Jalila Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to medical education and research. The 12-day endurance race starts at the Abu Dhabi Corniche and cuts through beach, desert and mountains before reaching the finish line at the Burj Khalifa on December 2. This tough event raised more than Dhs80,000 last year.
From Dhs77 to participate, free to spectate. www.7emiratesrun.com (no number).
Nov 26 - Dec 7: Dubai International Parachuting Championships
Drop into the fifth parachuting championships and marvel at stunts and artistic formations that will literally be falling from the sky. For 12 days the skies will be filled with planes and parachutes showing their aerodynamic skills, and for those on the ground there will be plenty of live music, adrenalin-fuelled jetski displays and fly-boarding demos.
Free to spectate. SkyDive Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.facebook.com/dipcdxb (no number).
Nov 28: Red Bull Car Park Drift Grand Final
Find out which local driver will be crowned King of the Drift when this global racing car phenomenon reaches Dubai. Drifting started in the ’70s in Japan when a group of racers wanted to push their grip limits. Since the sport arrived in the Middle East in 2008, it has developed a massive following among racers and spectators. Expect lots of noise, power and dirt as these rally cars tear up the road at Meydan.
Free. 8pm. The Meydan Hotel’s G12 parking, Nad Al Sheba, www.redbull.com/mea (04 299 5151).
Nov 28 - Nov 29: Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship
Combining skill and endurance with the adrenalin rush of motorsports, contenders will drive for periods of 12 and 24 hours. Taking karting to the extreme, this is the final event after three previous qualifiers. The winner will have completed the most laps of the circuit with the race time.
4pm-4pm. Dubai Kartdrome, Motor City, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8744).
Nov 29: The Color Run
Dubbed the happiest fun run in the world, The Color Run is certainly the messiest. Runners start the 5km event in fresh white T-shirts and are splattered with natural rainbow-coloured powder paints as they sprint around the track at Dubai Autodrome. Not concerned with times or personal bests, this run is all about fun and ends with a riotous colourful finish fiesta.
Dhs140. 8am. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City. www.thecolorrun.ae (no number).
The Dubai Grand Parade 2014
See the largest convoy of luxury and classic cars and bikes in the region. Starting and finishing at Meydan Racecourse, the supercar parade will file past the iconic landmarks of the city. This year’s event is hoping to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of car brands to feature in a parade. Leading the way at the front of the fleet will be Dubai Police’s fleet of supercars (where else in the world do the police ride in a Bugatti Veyron?) so be sure to take your camera and snap them along the route.
Free. 3pm. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, www.dubaigrand parade.com (056 261 7714).
Dec 4 - Dec 6: Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens
Fusing the game with a festival, the Rugby Sevens has become a sporting institution in Dubai. Watch 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams from all over the world play at The Sevens Stadium and enjoy the fantastic fun activities for the whole family, as well as amazing fancy dress.
Free (Thursday December 4), Dhs300 per day (December 5-6), Dhs500 (two-day season ticket). Gates open 7.30am. The Sevens Stadium, Dubai-Al Ain Road, www.dubairugby7s.com (04 321 0008).
Let us help you plan the perfect Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens weekend
Enjoy breakfast at McGettigan’s, JLT then hop on the arranged shuttle buses to the stadium.
Dhs99 per person (including full Irish breakfast, house drink and bus to The Sevens Stadium). Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, www.mcgettigans.com
From 8.40am The very first games start at 8.40am on Thursday and Friday and 9am on Saturday. The IRB Women’s Sevens World Series matches will be played on Thursday with the final at 6.30pm on Friday. The men’s games will be played on Friday and Saturday with the final at 9pm on Saturday.
3pm Head to Pitch One for the big matches, but also check out the other pitches to catch the biggest invitation tournament ever, featuring local teams, veterans and juniors, and for the first time this year, a Gulf Under 18 girls’ competition.
4pm Take the kids to the Sabaa 7s Club, a buzzing family-friendly hub with a circus workshop, face painting and jugglers.
5pm Wander around the Rugby Village to pick up merchandise, enter all the exciting sponsors’ competitions, and stop-off for a bite to eat.
5.40pm Catch the Invitation Tournament finals on Friday and Saturday.
7pm After the women’s final on Friday, watch the fantastic parade on Pitch One. See the Royal Marines Band, all the teams and cheerleaders, and get the party vibe going for the night’s entertainment.
9pm On Friday and Saturday night, party at Rugby Rock in the Rugby Village. Dubai-based rock band The Boxtones will be lighting up the stage on Friday night, while The Daytrippers play on Saturday night.
11pm Get the free shuttle bus back to the city, stopping at various locations. They run from 6pm until midnight.
Dec 10 - Dec 13: Omega Dubai Ladies Masters
Won last year by Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, the ODLM is the first full ladies European Tour played in the Middle East and it continues to attract the highest level of golfers to the green with a prize fund of more than Dhs2million.
Free general admission. Hospitality packages from Dhs175. 7am. Emirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills, www.dubailadiesmasters.com (04 380 2112).
Dec 11 - Dec 13: International Premiere Tennis League
Champion tennis players join forces on four teams in a brand-new elite tennis league. Sports fans will be delighted to see the roster of A-listers, including Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, as well as veteran Andre Agassi, play in this tournament. Brand new to Dubai, the event has been hosted in Singapore, Manila and Delhi and aims to revitalise the appeal of tennis here. The UAE Royals team will be headed by World number one Novak Djokovic, and current US Open champion Marin Cilic.
From Dhs75. 4pm. Hamdan Sports Complex, Emirates Road, www.iptlworld.com (04 306 2666).
Dec 11 - Dec 13: UIM SkyDive Dubai XCAT World Series
Watch the exhilarating powerboat races at the final round of the World Series. Zippy racing action on the water, daring fly-boarding displays and live music in the spectator areas will make this an action-packed, daring weekend.
Free to spectate. 9.30am-8pm. SkyDive Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.xcatracing.com (04 377 8888).
Dec 12: Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge
2000 cyclists will be pedalling past Dubai’s most famous landmarks The Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall and The Burj Al Arab in this 92km cycle race. The event starts and finishes at the Nad Al Sheba cycle track, and spectators can cheer on the plucky riders along the route.
Free to spectate. 6am. Race starts at Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park, www.cyclechallenge.ae (04 321 0008).
Dec 15 - Dec 21: Dubai Open 2014
A golfing event that’s aimed not just at pros but those who are a bit curious about the sport, too. The Dubai Open is the season-ending Asian Tour event and offers golfers four days of great fun at The Els Club.
Free. December 15-16 are practice days. December 17-21 is the event proper. The Els Club, Dubai Sports City, www.dubaiopen.ae (04 380 2112).
Dec 17 - Dec 21: Badminton World Federation Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals
Shuttlecocks will be flying at top speed at this climatic event. The top eight men’s and women’s singles and doubles players will be battling it out for the title and prize money. Dhs25. 9am. Hamdan Sports Complex, Emirates Road, www.bwfbadminton.org (04 306 2666).
Dec 30: Dubai Football Challenge – Real Madrid v AC Milan
Get your scarves and football shirts ready, as two of the giants of club football are coming to Dubai. Possibly one the of the biggest footballing events to grace the city, fans will see iconic players Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodríguez, Gareth Bale and Fernando Torres play what promises to be 90 minutes of electric football.
From Dhs200. 8pm. The Sevens Stadium, Dubai-Al Ain Road, www.virginmegastore.me (no number).
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Jan 8: Dubai World Cup Carnival Races
The run-up to the world’s most expensive horse racing event, The World Cup Carnival begins with these preliminary races. The finest horses and jockeys from around the world will take part.
Free general admission. 6.45pm. Meydan Grandstand and Racetrack, Nad Al Sheba, www.dubairacingclub.com (04 327 0077).
Jan 8-10: Hankook 24H endurance race
Sheer endurance racing for 24 hours at the Autodrome. Feel the power as ‘tin top’ touring cars, GTs and 24H-Specials tear up the track throughout the night in a high-speed frenzy.
Free. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.24hdubai.com (04 367 8700).
Jan 23: Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon
For the 15th year the city’s biggest marathon strides to the fore with professional and amateurs running side by side. The event includes a full marathon, a 10km and a fun run that will take a scenic route pass the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Mosque. Line the streets and cheer the runners on.
Free to spectate. Dhs440 to participate. Dubai Police Academy, Umm Suqeim www.dubaimarathon.org (04 433 5669).
Jan 23 - Feb 6: Dubai Polo Silver Cup series
Set in the stunning surroundings of the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club at Arabian Ranches, this event will present the world’s best polo teams and players, who will battle it out for the prize. Dine in the VIP stands, bring your friends for a picnic on the lush lawns or party to the beats in the tent.
Dhs150. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Arabian Ranches www.dubaipologoldcup.com (050 256 9791).
Jan 26 - Feb 1: Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Held at the same place and at same time every year, Stephen Gallacher has won the prestigious event for the past two years. See if he will maintain his winning streak.
From Dhs75. Emirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills, www.dubaidesertclassic.com (04 380 2112).
Yoga and Music Festival
Offering three days of yoga, spiritual wellness and consciousness, the festival includes a series of seminars on energy, success and dreams alongside films and yoga classes to stretch your mind and your body.
Dhs100. Thu 2pm-8.30pm, Fri-Sat 8.30am-6.30pm. One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road, www.dubaiyogafest.com (056 350 7760).
Feb 4 - Feb 7: Dubai Tour
Following the success of the inaugural event last year, Dubai’s own cycle tour returns with new stages and a revised longer route making it more challenging for the teams of professional cyclists. The 663km race is broken down into four stages, taking cyclists through the desert, Hatta Mountains and through Old and New Dubai. Spectators can line the streets as the tour comes to your part of town. The final stage will see the athletes pedal through a finish line at Burj Khalifa.
www.dubaitour.com (no number).
Feb 15 - Feb 28: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
See the stars of tennis compete at this thrilling elite event. Roger Federer has lifted the dhow-shaped trophy six times, and will be hoping to see off his rival Novak Djokovic yet again. On the women’s court Venus Williams will be out to prove that she can hold onto her title.
Tickets on sale from January. The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com (no number).
Feb 23 - Mar 13: Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series (Gold Cup) 2015
Bringing together the best polo players in the world, as well as a glamorous crowd, the Dubai Polo Gold Cup is the premier polo competition of the year. Teams from The UAE, Argentina and England will be competing for the top prize and trophy, and spectators will be treated to a show off the field, with fashion shows also taking place.
From Dhs150. Doors open at noon. February 23 to March 13 2015, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Arabian Ranches, www.dubaipologoldcup.com (050 256 9791).
Benita Adesuyan gets former Fifa head Harold Mayne-Nicholls’ opinion on the World Cup coming to the Middle East for the first time in 2022.
The World Cup is undoubtedly one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, and the bid to host the best footballers and their millions of fans is a huge honour. Harold Mayne-Nicholls, former head of the Fifa Technical Committee and the ex-head of the Chilean Football Federation is the man who lead the association’s inspection team for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host cities bids. Ahead of his trip to Dubai for the Host Cities sports summit, we quizzed him on his thoughts on the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The report you filed to Fifa wasn’t in favour of Qatar hosting the 2022 event. Why were you against it?
There were two major troubles for me. The first was logistics. It’s a very small country and a lot of people attend games on the same day, or even four games in one day. I think Qatar can do it but they have to prepare in a very big way. The second was what’s currently being debated by Fifa with regard to the weather in June and July. I informed them on the report that it’s too risky for the players [to play in such hot conditions], and doctors from Fifa confirmed this.
Some pundits and commentators have suggested that the event should be hosted elsewhere or that the dates should change so it becomes a winter event. What do you think is the solution?
I think it will go to Qatar anyway, they won the bid and got the votes. I’m sure Qatar will host a wonderful World Cup but they will need to work hard to get the stadiums ready and provide the right conditions for the tournament, and Fifa must find a solution for the dates, as June or July is not the best time to play.
Some claimed that Fifa wasn’t thinking about the fans when it decided to back Qatar’s bid. What do you say to that?
I’m not sure about that. I was on the technical side, but it’s clear that this opens a new door for countries from the Middle East to bid for major events. It was clear from the beginning that it would be a huge opportunity if Qatar were to host the World Cup. Now they have a big opportunity to show that they can really arrange an international event of this size in the Middle East, not just in Qatar.
How is Qatar progressing with its preparations for the event?
I’ve been following what’s going on in the meetings only, I don’t have any information on what they’re doing now and I don’t think it would be fair to say. I am sure they are working and will prepare a wonderful World Cup. I’m sure everything will be on time.
Do you think The UAE could host the World Cup in the future?
Yes, if Qatar is a big success then the door will be open to others. If you organise the World Cup you have to look into everything. Where the players will stay with maximum comfort, stadiums and security for all the fans and supporters.
You’ve worked in football for a long time. What changes have you seen and what developments would you like to see?
I don’t think the game needs too much development, but I think the image of Fifa needs to change. I think it has a lack of transparency and we need to do something about that. Then we can think about how we develop the game. We can’t develop the game if Fifa’s image remains the way it is at the moment.
What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities for hosting an event such as the World Cup? Does it ever pay off financially?
It’s very expensive and you have to be careful with resources. The government and the Local Organising Committee have to give the supporters and teams what they’re looking for in a World Cup tournament, and that is: good security, stadiums, training fields and facilities, hotels and accommodation for both the players and the fans. With regard to revenue, it’s the image that you show the world. For at least four years you will be in the media all over the world, everyone will be talking about where the next world cup is – Qatar or Washington DC or wherever. It’s the biggest event in the world and everyone wants to be part of it.
Which would you say has been your favourite World Cup to date?
I have been involved in the World Cup since 1994. I went to USA 1994, France 1998, South Korea and Japan in 2002, Germany in 2006, South Africa in 2010 and Brazil this year. The one I most enjoyed when I was working in the organisation was Germany; but as just a supporter my favourite was Brazil, especially supporting the Chilean team.
You get to travel a lot with work. Is there a particular country you would like to see host the World Cup?
I think every country deserves the chance to host the event. I’d like to see what happens with the European Cup that will take place in 2020 in 13 venues across 13 countries. If that works then perhaps for 2026 we will have a different concept of the World Cup. It will be a big change and it will open the door to countries all over the world. You may have more in the Middle East or even have six different countries jointly host the World Cup. It would be a huge change in the world of football.