For sports, just as in architecture, Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer a stark contrast between tradition and modernity. This season, the absolute highlight is the Dubai World Cup, the region’s premier equestrian event held at the iconic Meydan Racecourse. The total prize money for the nine races held on 25 March 2017 reaches USD 30 million. Dubai is also looking ahead to what sports may become in a few decades: the World Future Sports Games will be held in December 2017, with drone races, and robots that fight it out by wrestling, swimming, running and car racing.
Dubai World Cup Equestrian Event
Whatever the future holds for sports, motor racing is always a favourite, and the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, will be held on 27 November. It is the only twilight race on the Formula 1 calendar, starting in daylight at 5pm and ending after sundown. Post-race concerts include The Chemical Brothers on Friday 25th, and Rihanna who closes the event on Sunday.
Dubai Motor Festival
The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens are back in town for the 47th year, 1-3 December 2016. Rugby Sevens is an exciting sport, because the matches are played by teams of seven, with each half lasting just seven minutes (ten in the final). That means a lot of action-packed matches for the men’s and women’s teams, who play on full-sized pitches. With loads of additional entertainment, it’s a 3-day party.
The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series was founded in 2009 and it is a highlight on the society calendar as well as a prime sports event, a combination of equestrian action and high-profile glamour. The series comprises five events, from 20 January to 14 April 2017.
F1 H20 World Championship
There are two powerboat events in Abu Dhabi, starting with the XCAT World Series on 17 and 18 November. This event features extreme catamarans with twin 600 hp outboard engines taking them to speeds of up to 220 km/h. Three weeks later, the same course between the Breakwater and the Corniche is used for the Abu Dhabi UIM F1 H2O World Championship, on 8 and 9 December. The twin-hulled powerboats accelerate even faster than Formula 1 cars and reach 160 km/h from a standing start in just 4 seconds. Drivers have to deal with the spray thrown up by the boats in front, and the chop that can send a craft into a dangerous somersault.