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Experience the vibrant sports culture of the United Arab Emirates!

It’s not just about luxury and skyscrapers!

In the UAE, soccer is undoubtedly the favorite, but other fascinating sports captivate the nation.

Explore the 11 most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates in our list.

Most Popular Sports in the United Arab Emirates:

  1. Soccer
  2. Cricket
  3. Horse Racing
  4. Motorsports
  5. Camel Racing
  6. Golf
  7. Tennis
  8. Basketball
  9. Rugby
  10. Table Tennis
  11. Swimming

#1 Soccer

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1970s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from the UAE: Omar Abdulrahman (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 50,000

Soccer is the most popular and widely enjoyed sport in the United Arab Emirates. Enthusiastic fans follow both domestic and international competitions, making it the nation’s favorite pastime.

The UAE Arabian Gulf League is the top-tier soccer league in the country, where clubs fiercely compete for glory. The talented playmaker Omar Abdulrahman shines as the most famous Emirati soccer player.

UAE’s memorable moments include the 2019 Asian Cup semifinals and the historic 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification. Soccer holds a special place in the Emirati culture, with its fan base continually growing.

#2 Cricket

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1980s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from the UAE: Rohan Mustafa (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 30,000

Cricket enjoys immense popularity in the UAE, primarily due to a large South Asian expat population who bring their love for the sport. The UAE is no stranger to hosting significant international cricket events.

The Emirates Cricket Board governs the domestic cricket scene in the UAE. All-rounder Rohan Mustafa is the most famous Emirati cricketer, known for his match-winning performances.

The UAE’s qualification for the 1996 and 2015 ICC Cricket World Cups are unforgettable achievements in the country’s cricket history. Cricket continues to flourish in the UAE, gaining more local and expat followers.

#3 Horse Racing

Horse racing
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: Ancient Times
  • 🌟Most Famous Jockey from the UAE: Ahmed Ajtebi (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Racing Enthusiasts in the UAE: 100,000

Horse racing is a centuries-old traditional sport in the UAE and enjoys royal patronage. The country boasts state-of-the-art facilities and hosts prestigious international events.

The Dubai World Cup, held at the iconic Meydan Racecourse, is one of the world’s richest horse races, drawing enthusiasts and horse owners from across the globe. Emirati jockey Ahmed Ajtebi is a prominent figure in the racing community.

The annual horse racing season in the UAE is marked by excitement and high-stakes competition, attracting the world’s best thoroughbreds and turning into a glamorous social event.

#4 Motorsports

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1990s
  • 🌟Most Famous Driver from the UAE: Khaled Al Qubaisi (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Racing Enthusiasts in the UAE: 200,000

Motorsports is a thrilling and fast-growing sport in the UAE, with the country becoming a hub for adrenaline-pumping racing events, both on two and four wheels.

The Yas Marina Circuit and the Dubai Autodrome are prominent racing venues, hosting prestigious international events like the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Emirati endurance driver Khaled Al Qubaisi is a celebrated motorsports figure in the country.

The UAE motorsports scene is witnessing rapid growth, fueled by consistent success on the track and the construction of world-class facilities, catering to racing enthusiasts and professionals alike.

#5 Camel Racing

Camel Racing
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: Ancient Times
  • 🌟Most Famous Racing Team: Al Maktoum Camel Racing (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Racing Enthusiasts in the UAE: 50,000

Camel Racing is a deeply rooted traditional sport in the UAE, capturing the nation’s heritage and Bedouin culture. It enjoys widespread popularity and royal support, adding to the country’s unique identity.

The famed Al Maktoum Camel Racing team is a prominent name associated with distinguished racers and highly prized camels. Spectators flock to various racing tracks across the UAE, especially during the winter months.

Often dubbed as the “Sport of the Sheikhs,” Camel Racing is a symbol of national pride and cultural continuity. The UAE is committed to preserving and nurturing this ancient sport for generations to come.

#6 Golf

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1980s
  • 🌟Most Famous Golfer from the UAE: Ahmed Al Musharrekh (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 15,000

Golf has seen a significant surge in popularity in the UAE over recent years, particularly as the country hosts world-class golf courses and international tournaments.

Some of the most prestigious events held in the UAE include the DP World Tour Championship and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. These events attract top-tier professional golfers and enthusiasts from around the world. Emirati golfer Ahmed Al Musharrekh shines as the first professional golfer from the UAE.

The widespread appeal of golf in the UAE further strengthens the country’s position as a prominent international sports destination, fostering a prominent golfing culture.

#7 Tennis

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1970s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from the UAE: Omar Behroozian (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 20,000

Tennis has a growing foothold in the UAE, with increasing interest in the sport and state-of-the-art facilities to cater to fans and players alike.

The country hosts several prestigious tennis tournaments, with the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the Mubadala World Tennis Championship being some of the most notable. Emirati player Omar Behroozian is a celebrated figure within the local tennis community.

Tennis has grown from a niche pastime to a well-established sport in the UAE, contributing to the country’s diverse sports landscape and providing an avenue for local talent to thrive.

#8 Basketball

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1970s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from the UAE: Qais Al Shabebi (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 25,000

Basketball is a rapidly growing sport in the UAE, with increasing participation and viewership from local and expat communities.

The UAE National Basketball League serves as the main domestic basketball competition in the country, with teams from all over the UAE competing for the title. Emirati basketball player Qais Al Shabebi is recognized for his talents and contributions to the sport.

With the ever-growing popularity of basketball in the UAE, the sport continues to develop its presence and attract passionate fans, contributing to the nation’s vibrant and diverse sports culture.

#9 Rugby

Rugby Sevens
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1960s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from the UAE: Jaen Botes (South African-Emirati)
  • Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 10,000

Rugby has been steadily gaining popularity in the UAE, driven by a growing expat community and increasing local interest in the sport.

The UAE Rugby Federation oversees the development of the sport, with various domestic leagues and clubs that cater to rugby enthusiasts. Local rugby fans closely follow international events such as the World Cup and the Six Nations Championship. Jaen Botes, a talented South African-Emirati rugby player, is a recognizable figure within the rugby community.

With a strong commitment to fostering the sport, rugby continues to expand its presence in the UAE, appealing to a diverse audience and contributing to the nation’s sports culture.

#10 Table Tennis

Table Tennis
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1980s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from the UAE: Rashid Abdulhameed (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the UAE: 15,000

Table tennis is a well-established sport in the UAE, with growing participation from both local and expat players.

The UAE Table Tennis Association governs the sport, organizing domestic tournaments and fostering young talent. Rashid Abdulhameed, an accomplished Emirati table tennis player, has become a prominent figure in the country.

Interest in table tennis remains strong, with local enthusiasts often following international events like the ITTF World Championships. Table tennis in the UAE provides both a competitive platform and a fun, engaging pastime, further enriching the nation’s sports scene.

#11 Swimming

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the UAE: 1970s
  • 🌟Most Famous Swimmer from the UAE: Nada Al Bedwawi (Emirati)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Swimmers in the UAE: 50,000

Swimming is a popular sport in the UAE, with its vast coastline and state-of-the-art facilities, enabling residents to enjoy the benefits of the sport.

The UAE Swimming Federation is responsible for developing and promoting swimming across the country. Emirati swimmer Nada Al Bedwawi has made history as the UAE’s first female Olympic swimmer, inspiring many to take up the sport.

Swimming is not only a competitive sport in the UAE but also an essential life skill and recreational activity. Its popularity continues to rise, fostering a culture that values health, fitness, and personal achievement in the sporting arena.


What is the most popular sport in the United Arab Emirates?

Soccer is the most popular sport in the United Arab Emirates, with a deeply rooted fan base and widespread appeal, attracting both local and expat communities to domestic and international competitions.

What is the national sport of the United Arab Emirates?

The national sport of the United Arab Emirates is soccer (football), holding a significant place in the country’s cultural and sporting landscape, and drawing support from a diverse population.

What are the most watched spoin the United Arab Emirates?

The most watched sports in the United Arab Emirates are soccer, cricket, horse racing, motorsports, camel racing, golf, tennis, basketball, rugby, table tennis, and swimming, each possessing dedicated fan bases and viewership across the nation.

I'm a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. I run stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton, took part in the German Mini Golf Championships, started learning 'real' Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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