Dubai Fitness Challenge: Number of participants doubled in 4 years, says top official

This year, the challenge offered a more diverse and inclusive range of free fitness activities than ever before


Sahim Salim

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Published: Thu 25 Nov 2021, 3:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Nov 2021, 10:09 AM

In four years, the number of participants in the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) has doubled, a top official has said.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, said: “In its first edition in 2017, the number of participants for DFC was 786,000. Last year, more than 1.5 million people across the city took part in the initiative, with over 20,000 participating in the first edition of the iconic Dubai Ride in 2020 on Sheikh Zayed Road.

“More than 100,000 participants also took part in Dubai Run in 2020, with its routes stretching across all over the city. The previous year also saw 70,000 participants in the debut of Dubai Run in 2019, taking place on Sheikh Zayed Road.”

He said the DFC is one of the largest city-wide fitness challenges in the world. “Dubai is the only city in the world that offers its citizens, residents and visitors thousands of free live and virtual fitness and wellness events, classes and activities for a full 30 days - no matter their age, ability, or fitness level.

“This year’s edition has also seen a more diverse and inclusive range of fitness activities and events than ever before, with a particular focus on encouraging participants to get outdoors to complete their 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days,” he added.

Free events

Al Khaja said this year, the challenge offered a more diverse and inclusive range of free fitness activities than ever before.

“This would not have been possible without the immense support that we and our fellow organiser, Dubai Sports Council, have received from all of our great government and corporate partners. Our collaboration with like-minded organisations who are also committed to making Dubai a healthier and happier city is critical and have helped make the countless free events happen across the city for 30 days.”

The 2021 edition of the challenge offered three free Fitness Villages at Kite Beach, Expo 2020 Dubai and Mushrif Park; 14 Fitness Hubs in business and residential communities across the city; major sporting events and over 5,000 free live and virtual fitness classes.

Sheikh Hamdan leads the way

Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the face of this challenge. Being a fitness enthusiast himself, his messages have resonated with the masses.

“DFC’s recurring success year after year is testament to how strongly the Dubai Crown Prince’s vision of making Dubai the most active city in the world has resonated with the people of Dubai. The number of DFC participants increasing every edition speaks volumes on the impact and inspiration that the Dubai Crown Prince has had on the citizens and residents of this city,” said Al Khaja.

Impact on personal routine

The DFC has made an impact on Al Khaja’s life, he said.

“I personally enjoy cycling and playing padel tennis, and with DFC I have been able to find my 30 in these sports and commit to regular physical activity on a daily basis.

“The challenge has been very helpful in terms of motivation and encouragement to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle not only during the 30 days of DFC but after the month has passed as well, which is what this initiative is really all about,” he added.


He said the lives of many of his friends and family members have changed for the better after taking up the challenge.

“I can without a doubt say that many of these individuals have been able to change their life for the better and continue that momentum after the month of DFC has ended. This goes to show that Dubai truly is a city that recognizes the importance of physical health and embracing one’s fitness journey.”

Al Khaja said the DFC is the “perfect opportunity” for everyone to create healthy habits and incorporate them into their daily routines and regimens.

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