'Hooked on to DFC': These tourists travel to Dubai every year to participate in fitness challenge

6th edition of the event began on Oct 29, attracting thousands of residents to beaches, parks, and outdoor venues to partake in physical activities


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 29 Oct 2023, 6:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 4:26 PM

For Lyndsay, the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) is the perfect excuse to travel to Dubai annually. While walking to the beach during a 2019 visit, the Scottish national noticed fitness equipment. “I assumed it was an organised event,” she said. “I was surprised when I found that it was a free fitness village open to everyone.”

After the Covid pandemic, she returned to the DFC for the first time in 2022. Joining her on these trips is her friend Jo. “We are absolutely hooked on to the event,” said Jo. “We have participated in several events.”

The sixth instalment of this fitness challenge commenced in Dubai on Saturday, October 29, drawing thousands of residents who flocked to the beaches, parks, and various outdoor venues to partake in physical activities.

Lyndsay and Jo say what they love the most about the DFC is the buzz and energy. “There are multiple age groups, cultures and fitness abilities all - working out together in an inclusive environment,” said Jo.

Lyndsay and Jo
Lyndsay and Jo

These two friends are among the many visitors who travel to the UAE just in time for the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), eager to relish the excitement as the entire city transforms into a vast open-air gym.

In 2017, Indian expat Rahib Mohammed, who was working as a civil engineer on night shifts in Dubai, found himself unable to attend any of the fitness events during the first edition of DFC. This left him feeling frustrated and discouraged. “That is when I realised how important fitness was for me,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times. “I wasn’t able to find time for it, and it made me very cranky.”

With this realisation, Rahib quit his job, went back to India and switched careers to become a celebrity personal trainer with clients from all over the world. Today, he divides his time between India and the UAE. However, the one thing he never misses is the DFC. “No matter where I am, I always come back to Dubai for the fitness challenge,” he said. “I have never seen a city champion fitness the way Dubai does. There are so many free activities all over the town and it includes everyone. No one gets left behind.”

Rahib Mohammed
Rahib Mohammed

He continued, “What I love about the DFC is how it makes fitness all about having fun. When you go to gyms worldwide, they will tell you things like 'no pain, no gain' and 'go hard or go home'. But not Dubai. Here, fitness is fun, enjoyable and achievable. When you say 30 minutes, it already becomes a very achievable target for people. Truly hats off to this city for what they do.”

Rahib Mohammed
Rahib Mohammed

An initiative of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, the DFC aims to make Dubai the fittest city in the world and has inspired more than 2.2 million people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Last year, Rahib participated in the Dubai Ride. However, this year, due to work commitments, he will not be able to participate in the cycling event. “This year, I am participating in the Dubai Run,” he said. “I have already made my team, and we are all training together. I can’t wait to run on Sheikh Zayed Road.”


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