Dubai World Cup: Traditional Emirati stick dancers, after-race concerts to enthral visitors

Organisers have pulled out all the stops to ensure that anyone, from tiny tots to adults and senior citizens, will be engaged and entertained

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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Published: Mon 21 Feb 2022, 10:56 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 1:08 AM

Every last Saturday in the month of March the world’s sporting attention turns to Dubai where the iconic Meydan Racecourse, plays host to the Dubai World Cup, arguably one of the most prestigious and coveted races in the sport of horse racing.

While Australia’s Melbourne Cup ‘stops the nation’, the Dubai World Cup captivates a global audience.

Last year, horses from more than a dozen countries competed in nine top-class races, including six Group 1 contests, at Meydan Racecourse, in what is billed as the world’s most spectacular race day.

The feature race was the $12 (Dh44.08) million Dubai World Cup, which has been sponsored by Emirates Airline since 1996 and was won by American-trained Mystic River.

The Dubai Racing Club appointed distribution and production company Racecourse Media Group (RMG), which teamed up with leading networks to broadcast the event to the Americas, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Far East, Africa, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

If that’s not global, then what is.

The 26th edition of the Dubai World Cup will take place on Saturday, March 26, and it is set to be another incredible event with total prize money over $30.5 (112.03) million, a $5 (Dh18.37) million increase from last year's event.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2022 running of the iconic race on Saturday, March 26, 2022 and some frequently asked questions about going racing at Meydan Racecourse.

Is there any entertainment on the programme?

You bet.

There is something for everyone over six exciting hours at Meydan on race day.

Organisers have pulled out all the stops to ensure that anyone, from tiny tots to adults and senior citizens, will be engaged and entertained.

From traditional Emirati stick dancers and "hair dance" or "raqs sha'ar" which is performed by younger girls to gymnasts, jugglers, clowns, and singers the day is filled to the brim with entertainment.

Hungry racegoers can whet their appetites by indulging in any one of the popular cuisines available from traditional Arabic fare to Michelin Star delights and even fast food.

The entertainment highlight is the opening ceremony which is held in the middle of the card and just after the sunset.

The 2021 25th Anniversary ceremony will be remembered for years to come as it features a show where producers created a stunning 3-minute formation drone show weaving key messaging and brand imagery – DWC letters, a Falcon, and an Arabian horse motif – into the show’s cosmic narrative.

Utilising 80 customised drones – each carrying a remotely programmable LED light onboard the platform’s undercarriage – we created a series of shapes and sequences over 100 metres in width at an altitude of 400 feet above ground level filling the sky above the world’s widest LED screen.

I have heard about the after-event concerts, what are they?

The after-racing concerts have become the stuff of legend, with mega artists ranging from Toni Braxton, Seal, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue, and Janet Jackson to Gwen Steffani more recently, thrilling the audiences with their powerhouse hits.

The concert is free for all ticket holders and takes place in front of the Meydan Grandstand soon after the last race.

How many people attend the event?

Obviously, the meeting is attended by a who's who of owners, breeders, and super fans, but have you seen those best-dressed lists? This is the sort of event where you can’t be too dressed up: heels and hats are pretty much standard. While there’s plenty of excitement focused on the racing, for many the after-parties are the major lure.

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