Falconry, Camel Racing and Horse Racing


Traditional UAE Sports

The sport of falconry is among the many traditional pastimes still practiced in the UAE. The Locals consider it as a unique partnership between man and bird and it is not unusual to see a hooded falcon being trained on an owner's gloved wrist. You can usually get to see such activity on arranged tours. Falconry had been an integral part of life in the desert and goes back centuries. Originally, falcons were used for hunting, as they assisted in providing extra food to core dates, milk and bread. They were used to catch animals such as such as hare or houbara

Hunting expeditions were used in the past for Sheikhs to tour their land, in a fun way, with hunting in the day followed by a majlis out in the desert in the evening, and the local Bedouin would come to pay respects to their leader. Nowadays, falconry is primarily a sport or hobby but ensuring that the sport does not kill off any local species of hare or whatever else is caught. 

With a love of the camel, it is no surprise that camel racing exists in the UAE, which can be an enjoyable race to watch as you drive by next to the camels in a 4X4. In recent years, it has been revived formally and although there was some controversy regarding the the under age camel jockeys, the introduction of robot jockeys (!), seems to have solved this problem. There are a few tracks near Abu Dhabi, in Al Ain, in Dubai and Umm Al Quwain, and usually held on Friday mornings or on holidays. 

Throughout history, the Arabs have maintained a great love of horses and the tradition lives on with the rapid growth of horse racing. This includes the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race. Sheikhs Mohamed and the Al Maktoum family are the driving force behind Arabian horses in the Emirates with theirGodolphin Stables. He is considered one of the leading owners in the world, with his sons also enjoying success.