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These are the 3 most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates

If you are visiting the United Arab Emirates this year, why not consider taking in a little sport while you are there? In between sightseeing the incredible urban sprawl of the city of Dubai and touring the dunes on a camel safari, a little time on the side of a court or pitch might just be the perfect way to relax! So what are the best sports to watch when visiting the UAE?


Photo via Wikimedia




Once again football proves to be the dominant sport the world over, the United Arab Emirates being no exception. The UAE Pro-League is the professional level of football, where fourteen teams compete for the championship title. As well as the championship for the league itself (the UAE League Cup), teams in the UAE Pro-League take part in the UAE President’s Cup and the UAE Super Cup domestically, and the AFC Champions League internationally. Teams to watch out for in the UAE Pro-League are current champions Sharjah and runners up Shabab Al Ahli.

Below the UAE Pro-League is the UAE First Division League, where ten teams compete for promotion. The current champions are Khor Fakkan, formerly known as Al Khaleej but renamed to match their home city. And as of May 2019 the UAE Football Association announced that it would be putting together a UAE division two, which will allow smaller clubs and university teams to compete. In other words, you have a lot of football to watch if you visit the United Arab Emirates.


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What vocabulary should you take with you to a football match in the UAE?

Ball — كرة — kura

Team — فريق كرة القدم — fareequ kurratil qadm 

National team — منتخب كرة القدم — muntakhabu kurratil qadm

Game — مباراة — mubaaraah 

Player — لاعب — laaib 

Attacker — هاجم — haajim 

Defender — مدافع — mudaafi 

Goalkeeper — حارس المرمى — haaris ul marmaa 

Goal — هدف — hadaf 

Win — فوز — fawz

Lose — خسارة — khassarah

ُTie — تعادل — taaeadul

Offside — تسلل — tassallul 

ٌFree kick — ركلة حرة, ضربة حرة — raklatun hurrah 

Penalty shot — ضربة الجزاء — darbat ul jazaa 

Corner kick — ركلة ركنية, ضربة ركنية — raklatun rukniyah 

Half time — شونصف الوقت — — nsf alwaqt

ٌRed/Yellow card — بطاقة حمراء / بطاقة صفراء — bitaaqatun hamraa

Referee — حَكِم — hakim


Photo via Wikimedia



Cricket is easily the second most important sport in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is the home of the International Cricket Council which is the principal governing body of cricket internationally. The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium is one of the most famous stadiums in the UAE, hosting the majority of one-day internationals. The UAE national cricket team represents the UAE internationally, governed by the Emirates Cricket Board. Players to keep an eye out for are Shaiman Anwar and Mohammed Naveed.

Here is a little vocabulary to get you prepared for a cricket match in UAE:

All-rounder — klun mustadir — كل مستدير

Bat — midrab — مضرب

Batting average — aldarb almutawasit — الضرب المتوسط

Boundary — hudud — حدود

Bowl — dahraj alkura — دحرج الكرة

Ball — alkurat luebat alkrikit — الكرة لعبة الكريكيت

Catch — qubid ealaa — قبض على

Cricket — karikit — كريكيت

Fielder — fildur — فيلدر

Innings — adwar alkrikit — أدوار الكريكيت

Test match — mubarat alaikhtibar — مباراة الاختبار

Wicket — alwakt bukrat alkurkiat — الوكت بكرة الكركيت


Photo via Pixabay


Equestrian sports

Horse racing is hugely popular in the United Arab Emirates. The Dubai World Cup is a flat race for thoroughbred horses that is hosted annually on the last Saturday in March. This is a crowd-drawing event with special performances over the years from the likes of Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, and Sia. The prize of $12 million in 2019 went to Thunder Snow, just to give you an idea of the kind of money this event attracts! The Emirates Racing Authority is the responsible governing body for all horse racing throughout the UAE; their calendar is the best to follow to keep up to date with the latest events. And if you would like a little more traditional horse racing for the United Arab Emirates then you could watch some endurance racing, where riders cover up to 160km in a day. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is one of the most well-known endurance riders. 

Here is a little equestrian vocabulary to get you started:

Amateur — الهاوي — alhawi

Amble — مشى متمهلا — mashaa mutamahil

Arena — حلبة — halba

Breed — تربية — tarbia

Bridle — لجام — lijam

Combined driving — الجمع بين القيادة — aljame bayn alqiada

Equestrian — الفروسية — alfurusia

Gait — مشية — mashia

Horse racing — سباق الخيل — sibaq alkhayl

Jockey — سائس — sayis

Paddock — حقل صغير بجانب إصطبل — haql saghir bijanib ‘istbl

Purebred — أصيل — asil

Saddle — سرج — saraj

Stud — عشيق — eshiq

Are you looking forward to all the sport you can watch on your trip to the United Arab Emirates? How about brushing up on your Arabic skills before you go! You can check your current level here, or contact us for details of our tailor-made courses.