Frequently Asked Questions


Which breeds of horses compete on United Arab Emirates (UAE) racecourses?

Thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians

How many spectators attend race meetings in the UAE?

There no official crowd figures (due to free admission), though it is estimated Meydan & Jebel Ali have attracted crowds of up to 10,000 for their regular meetings. The Dubai World Cup meeting held each March at Meydan plays host to crowds in excess of 50,000 people.

Provide a brief description of the two breeds? What are the differences?

Thoroughbred racehorses have a pedigree that can be traced back to one of three founding stallions i.e. Godolphin Arabian, Darley Arabian & Byerley Turk. The history of the Purebred Arabian stretches back to early civilization.

Thoroughbreds are generally bigger in size, and have more speed over shorter distances. Arabians while smaller are better suited to steadier speeds over longer distances.

The two breeds are registered separately with parentage & blood typing carefully monitored and controlled, in order to maintain purity and traits of the breed.

Where are the UAE`s racecourses located?

There are currently four racecourses operating in the UAE.  Meydan, Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali, Sharjah and Al Ain. Meydan, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain stage evening meetings (under floodlight), Jebel Ali races on Friday afernoons and Sharjah race on Saturday afternoons. There is usually a minimum of six (6) races at each meeting. Racing commenced at Sharjah in 1983 at Abu Dhabi in 1991,  Nad Al Sheba in 1992 , Jebel Ali in 1993, Meydan in 2010 and Al Ain in 2014.

At what time of the year are race meetings staged?

Horseracing season runs from late October/early November to end of March.

Is it easy to attend a race meeting in the UAE?

Yes, entrance to the public enclosures at all racetracks is free; complimentary racecards & magazines are distributed, and there is a free competition at most meetings involving the selection of the first three horses home in each of the first six or seven races. Attractive prizes are offered.

All UAE race meetings are covered by local television.

How many owners, trainers & racehorses are there in the UAE?

There are almost 350 registered owners and syndicates with horses in training, more than 35 trainers, approximately 650 Thoroughbreds and 350 Purebred Arabians currently competing.

How did the Dubai World Cup originate?

Nad Al Sheba hosted International Jockeys Challenges in 1993, 1994 and 1995, which led to the staging of the first Dubai World Cup (the world's richest horse race) in 1996. The American champion Cigar ridden by Jerry Bailey won the inaugural contest. In 2012 the Dubai World Cup carried prize money of US$ 10 million and was the feature event of the world's richest race meeting with total purses of US$ 27.25 million.

Has Purebred Arabian racing evolved and improved in the UAE?

Over the past 10 years Purebred Arabian racing has been significantly promoted. Events such as the Maktoum Challenge races, the Arabian Triple Crown series, and the world's richest Purebred Arabian horse race, the Dubai Kahayla Classic (prize-money of US$ 250,000), have acknowledged the importance of Purebred Arabian horses both in breeding and racing in the UAE.

How do I buy a horse?

Public auctions are usually staged in the months of May and October (the Emirates Racing Authority homepage will be updated with full details before each Sale). Alternatively, trainers may be contacted directly (see appropriate section on this website).

What are the major benefits of racing my horse in the UAE?

The UAE offers a number of attractions for racehorse owners:

  • The perfect climate during the months from October through until March.
  • A racing industry that is Government subsidised.
  • Prizemoney offered in comparison to the costs of training and upkeep.
  • Each race is worth a minimum of approximately US$15,000.
  • Average field size of 10 with prizemoney paid down to fifth.
  • Races for all classes of horses and on all weather, dirt and turf.

In recent years the benefits of racing horses in the Emirates have increased, this supported by figures published out of the Conference of International Federation of Racing Authorities in Paris.In 1998 the returns to racehorse owners as a percentage of keep and training costs was AED 132 for every AED 100 spent. That figure rose to AED 185 in 1999 and for 2000, the growth continued to AED 230 and is expected to increase again when the next set of figures is released.

Where can I get information on Importing, Exporting and Transiting horses, to/from/through the UAE?

Contact the Equine Veterinary Advisor's Office, for information on: Regulations, Approved Countries, Procedures, Testing and Vaccination, Costings, Quarantine availability; Shipping Agents, etc. Tel: +(971 4) 336 1671 Fax: +(971 4) 336 1579 Email: [email protected] The Veterinary Advisor works closely with the Equine Division of the UAE Ministry Of Environment & Water and the Advisor's Office processes applications and prepares paperwork on behalf of the Ministry

How do I register a horse?

Thoroughbreds - Contact the Registry Department at ERA (see appropriate link in 'Contact Us').

Purebred Arabians - Contact the Emirates Arabian Horse Society (see appropriate details in 'Links' section).

Racing in Dubai

Is it possible to place a bet on horse racing in the UAE?

No. All forms of gambling are illegal in the UAE.