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Born of noble Bedouin traditions, racing in the UAE has rapidly evolved and the UAE now has a rightful place alongside the great racing nations. The modernisation of racing in the UAE has mirrored the development of the nation, and this transformation has been fuelled by the passion of the Emirati people.
Professional racing began in the UAE in 1992 coinciding with the formation of the ERA. In the relatively short period of time that professional racing has existed in the UAE, the country has developed an industry and infrastructure that takes many other racing centres decades to achieve.
Since 1992, professional racing in the UAE has been conducted at five racecourse in the UAE – Nad Al Sheba (Dubai Racing Club), Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club), Jebel Ali (Jebel Ali Racecourse), Sharjah (Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club) and Ghantoot (Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club).
The UAE boasts magnificent quarantine centres, modern feed mills, a state-of-the-art equine hospital and a number of private training establishments featuring the very latest, high-tech training surfaces.
The inaugural Dubai World Cup was conducted at Nad Al Sheba in 1996 and was won by the great Cigar. On Dubai World Cup day in 2001, the Millenium Grandstand was opened at Nad Al Sheba.
In 2005, the ERA hosted the International Apprentice Jockey Challenage at Nad Al Sheba.
In 2007, the ERA hosted the 31st Asian Racing Conference, the largest and most global racing conference in the world. Over 900 participants from 35 countries enjoyed a comphrensive and innovative conference program which cumumlinated in attedning the opening night of the 2007 Dubai International Racing Carnival.
The eve of the 2007 Dubai World Cup saw HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum usher in a new era for UAE racing with the announcement of Meydan, a new world class racing destination that would replace the Nad Al Sheba racecourse.
2009 saw the final races conducted at Nad Al Sheba on Dubai World Cup day, with the impressive silouette of the Meydan grandstand visible in the midst.
The 2012/13 racing season will see racing conducted at four venues – Meydan (Dubai Racing Club), which will encapsulate the Dubai World Cup Carnival meetings, Jebel Ali (Jebel Ali Racecourse), Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club) and Sharjah (Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club).