The UAE’s Sports law
Federal Law No. 4 of 2023 Concerning Sports (the Sports law), establishes the regulatory framework for sports and sports infrastructure in the UAE. This law unifies and aligns the objectives for the development of the sports sector, at both the federal and local levels. It promotes greater sports participation throughout the society and strengthens the capacity of competent authorities to offer accessible sports and physical activities.
The law targets three key segments, as follows:
- Community sports players - The law encourages individuals from all sections of society to engage in physical and sporting activities. Its objective is to raise the participation rate of individuals in diverse sports to 71 per cent, in line with the National Sports Strategy 2031.
- Competitive sports players – The law aims to assist sports entities in achieving sports excellence on a local and global scale by promoting competition and the discovery of talent
- People of determination - The law promotes the participation of people of determination in physical and sporting activities within clubs, schools and workplaces. It allows them to form national teams to participate in major sporting events.
Highlights of the Sports law
The law provides a guidance on distinguishing between sports that are pursued as a hobby and those that are pursued as a profession. In addition, it:
- ·outlines the activities that require approval from General Authority of Sports (GAS)
- regulates international coordination with GAS
- addresses issues related to the international participation of various sports entities and their registration with foreign sports organisations
- permits sports federations to form partnerships with national and foreign sporting and non-sporting institutions within and outside the UAE
- incorporates the Special Olympics UAE and the UAE Hearing Impairment Committee to represent the nation in regional and international competitions.
Read news coverage on WAM.
Refer to General Authority of Sports for more information.
National Sports Strategy - 2031
The National Sports Strategy - 2031 aims to enhance community sports, competitive sports and the overall sports system in the UAE. Its objective is to promote sustainable growth and prosperity in the country’s sports sector.
By 2031, the National Sports Strategy will implement 17 initiatives to achieve several goals, which include:
- increasing the proportion of people practising diverse sports to 71 per cent of the population
- developing sports professionals
- discovering talented athletes in schools
- upgrading the sports education methodology
- enhancing regulations governing the sports sector.
The strategy seeks to strengthen the UAE's participation in various international tournaments, including the Olympic Games and to establish a global identity for Emirati sports.
The efforts to develop sports professionals align with those of the UAE National Olympic Committee, which focuses on preparing professional athletes for major regional and international competitions.
Read more about sports in the UAE.
Sports in the UAE
Since the formation of the UAE in 1971, the political leadership has given every attention to the growth, welfare and institutionalisation of sport sector in view of the significant role it plays in the development and advancement of the nation. Establishing and maintaining sports clubs is under the scope of social development services.
The UAE is keen on providing the necessary support for sports in the country, through the construction of many modern sports facilities such as football (soccer) stadiums, car-racing tracks, golf courses and training centres throughout the country, to serve professionals and beginners.
Sports and Vision 2021
Achieving a cohesive society and preserved identity is one of the six pillars of National Agenda in line with Vision 2021. One of the KPIs to measure such achievement is the number of medals won in the Olympic and Paralympic championships in various sports.
Participation in competitions open for all residents
In April 2018, the UAE Government approved a federal law which allows all UAE residents, regardless of their nationalities, to participate in national sports competitions held in the country. The law applies to children of Emirati mothers, UAE passport holders and all those born in the UAE along with residents of all nationalities.
The move aims to promote sports in the UAE and widen the base of talented participants in various sports. It also seeks to instill the value of loyalty to UAE and the government agenda of integrating all segments of society in a peaceful co-existence.
Traditionally, the Emiratis engaged in falconry and racing horses, camels, salukis and dhows as a way of survival. However, with changing times and laws these activities are now practised purely as a regulated sport.
At the end of the annual hunting season, falcons undergo medical check-ups at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and only the healthy birds are let into the wild. Others are treated at the hospital. Each falcon is micro-chipped for identification and protection.
Equestrian sports in the UAE include endurance, show jumping, eventing, dressage and racing. The late H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan started endurance rides in the UAE. Even today, several members of the royal families in the UAE passionately pursue equestrian sports.
Both H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his son H. H. Sheikh Hamdan are exceptionally gifted endurance riders and have won several international endurance rides. H. H. Sheikh Mohammed owns the Godolphin stable in Dubai and runs Darley, the global thoroughbred breeding operation from the United Kingdom.
Camel racing was mainly staged to mark important social occasions such as wedding ceremonies, community festivals or the visits of Sheikhs to Bedouin villages. Today, it is an organised sport involving valuable prizes and cash awards worth millions of Dirhams.
The local breed - Mahaliyat, the Omani breed - Omaniyat, the Sudanese camels - Sudaniyat and the interbred - Muhajanat are the main breeds used in the racing competitions.
Bull-fighting still takes place in the emirate of Fujairah. It is a weekly activity practised during the cooler months.
The modern era brought several sports to the UAE such as football, golf, polo, tennis, rugby, sailing, yacht and motor racing. Emiratis are zealous fans of football.
Recreational and adventure activities
Popular recreational and adventure activities include sky diving, golfing, desert safari, dune buggy riding, cycling, land sailing, quad biking, dune bashing, sandboarding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, ice-skating and snow skiing.
The UAE regularly hosts championships, which involve renowned international players, big rewards and huge public following. Some of the major championships include Arabian Gulf League, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Dubai Desert Classic, Dubai Tennis Championships, Rugby Sevens and Dubai World Cup.
The UAE is the host for several international cricket tournaments.
Dubai holds the annual Dubai Marathon which attracts thousands of enthusiasts and professional runners. The prize money involves a few hundred thousand US dollars.
Some of the popular sports events in the other fields of sports are:
View the sports events in the calendar.
Since the UAE hosts several major international tournaments, it provides the best of facilities in terms of cricket/football stadiums, equestrian clubs, tennis courts, racetracks and a circuit for Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Some of the facilities in the different fields of sports are:
Free zones for promoting sports
The UAE Government has established free zone sports cities/complexes to promote the uptake of sports. The sports cities are mixed-use properties with sports clubs, stadiums, training academies, residential areas, commercial spaces, restaurants etc. The free zones for sports in the UAE are:
Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi offers practice facilities for basketball, billiards, football, paintball and more.
Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai has two swimming pools, each 50 metres long constructed with advanced technology of moveable floors enabling the swimming pools to be transformed into a pool that is 25 metres long with varying depth. Pools are maintained at a temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.
Hamdan Sports Complex has a stadium that can seat 15,000 spectators at the three-tier horseshoe-shaped seating bowl in the competition arena.
Outdoor lights in Hamdan Sports Complex are solar-powered.
Dubai International Stadium in Dubai Sports City can seat 25,000. Dubai Sports City offers practice facilities for football, golf, cricket and more.
Dubai Motor City comprises Dubai Autodrome and an F1 circuit.
Updated on 16 Nov 2023