Born of noble Bedouin traditions, racing in the UAE has rapidly evolved and the UAE now has a rightful place alongside the great racing nations. The modernisation of racing in the UAE has mirrored the development of the nation, and this transformation has been fuelled by the passion of the Emirati people.
Professional racing began in the UAE in 1992 coinciding with the formation of the ERA. In the relatively short period of time that professional racing has existed in the UAE, the country has developed an industry and infrastructure that takes many other racing centres decades to achieve.
Since 1992, professional racing in the UAE has been conducted at five racecourse in the UAE – Nad Al Sheba (Dubai Racing Club), Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club), Jebel Ali (Jebel Ali Racecourse), Sharjah (Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club) and Ghantoot (Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club).
The UAE boasts magnificent quarantine centres, modern feed mills, a state-of-the-art equine hospital and a number of private training establishments featuring the very latest, high-tech training surfaces.
The inaugural Dubai World Cup was conducted at Nad Al Sheba in 1996 and was won by the great Cigar. On Dubai World Cup day in 2001, the Millenium Grandstand was opened at Nad Al Sheba.
In 2005, the ERA hosted the International Apprentice Jockey Challenage at Nad Al Sheba.
In 2007, the ERA hosted the 31st Asian Racing Conference, the largest and most global racing conference in the world. Over 900 participants from 35 countries enjoyed a comphrensive and innovative conference program which cumumlinated in attedning the opening night of the 2007 Dubai International Racing Carnival.
The eve of the 2007 Dubai World Cup saw HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum usher in a new era for UAE racing with the announcement of Meydan, a new world class racing destination that would replace the Nad Al Sheba racecourse.
2009 saw the final races conducted at Nad Al Sheba on Dubai World Cup day, with the impressive silouette of the Meydan grandstand visible in the midst.
The 2015/16 racing season will see racing conducted at five venues – Meydan (Dubai Racing Club), which will encapsulate the Dubai World Cup Carnival meetings, Jebel Ali (Jebel Ali Racecourse), Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club), Sharjah (Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club) and Al Ain (Al Ain Racecourse).
The Emirates Racing Authority
The Emirates Racing Authority is the internationally recognised governing body for horse racing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and it has been established for the following reasons:
- For the purpose of making, altering, amending and administrating the Rules in the UAE.
- For the purpose of carrying on the trade or business of Racecourse management and for the purpose of education, entertainment and participation by the general public in Horse racing.
- To encourage Horse breeding and Horse ownership in the UAE and to improve the quality of racing.
- To organise, represent and promote Horse racing on an international basis.
- To promote tourism, trade and commerce in the UAE.
The ERA administers all aspects of the sport, including the implementation and application of the UAE Rules of Racing through its Stewarding and Veterinary Departments. This also includes the licensing of all trainers, jockeys, officials and stable personnel. The ERA Registry Office manages and processes the registration of horses for racing, and all entries and declarations for all race meetings in the UAE. The ERA also administers the internationally approved Emirates Thoroughbred Stud Book.
The ERA Board assumes ultimate responsibility for ensuring the roles and functions of the Authority are fulfilled. The ERA Board is comprised as follows:
H H Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Chairman
Mr Saeed Humaid Al-Tayer Vice-Chairman
Mr Malih Lahej Al Basti Member
Mr Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Shehhi Member
Mr Matar Al Yabhouni Member
The Emirates Racing Authority is a body corporate formed by Emiri Decree.
In 2006, the ERA Board appointed a Steering Committee to assist it in fulfilling its responsibilities, with specific reference to reviewing the rules and regulations of racing, the licensing of participants and the medication protocols for horses. In addition the Steering Committee promotes organisational best practice, ensures adherence to relevant international standards, provides strategic guidance to the UAE racing industry and addresses any racing issues that may arise on a day-to-day basis throughout the racing season. The ERA Steering Committee is comprised as follows:
Mr Malih Lahej Al Basti Chairman
Mr Frank Gabriel Jr Member
The ERA is a proactive member of the Asian Racing Federation and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, and is significant contributor to other significant regulatory authorities and committees, such as:
- World Racehorse Rankings Committee (WRRC)
- International Movement of Horses Committee (IMHC)
- Asian Stud Book Conference
- International Conference of Racing Analysts and Veterinarians (ICRAV)