Some sports in the UAE not only offer excitement and entertainment, but also maintain traditions that might otherwise be lost. For example, Emiratis have long relied on the camel as a means of travelling in the desert. Camel racing originated from the need to improve the physical characteristics of the animals. Once camel races were held in the middle of the desert. Today they take place at modern racetracks. Facilities have been built to breed and train camels specially for racing.
Another traditional and popular sport in the Emirates is horse racing. Emiratis have made efforts to preserve the purity of the Arabian horse stock, which is believed to be the best breed for short distance and endurance racing. The Dubai World Cup is one of the richest horse races in the world and brings together competitors from five continents. Sheikh Zayed, who is the President of the UAE, owns one of the biggest stables of purebred Arabian horses in the world.

Falconry is a traditional pastime in parts of Arabia. The sport is not within everyone's means, because it is expensive to care for the birds. The main participants in this sport are sheikhs. A falcon's trainer is known as a saggar. During the falcon's training period, he is rarely separated from his bird.

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Some Emirati children still play traditional games. Al Meryeihana is a skipping game usually played by young girls. Hawari is a game involving toy ships made from palm leaves. Al Ghomaid is like blind man's bluff.

Boat races, including sailing and rowing, are popular competitive events. The honour of each Emirate rests on the skill of the crews. The sailboats are modelled on the boats that have been used by fisherman for centuries in the Gulf.

Soccer, which Emiratis call football, is the most popular sport in the country. Promotion of the sport through football clubs at schools and colleges, as well as at local, regional and national levels, is continuing to raise the standard of the game in the country.

Many other sports are played in the Emirates. They include cricket, rugby, bowling, tennis, squash and golf. The country has developed many sports facilities to accommodate Emiratis' enthusiasm for competition. International tournaments for various sports activities are held regularly. They include yacht races, powerboat competitions and the famous car rally, "The Desert Challenge."