No trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to Meydan. Dubai and Kentucky share a mutual love of horses so it made sense that we visited the horse track. Being a travel blogger, this was right up my alley!
Meydan is the vision of His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Or, as he is referred to in Lexington, Sheikh Mohammed. Sheikh Mohammed is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He is a big-picture thinker. According to Wikipedia, ” his goal is to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world by 2021.” He has launched many large enterprises including Emirates Airlines, Burj Al Arab (the hotel we discussed for High Tea), Palm Islands and Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). His vision is truly remarkable.
Sheikh Mohammed is also a very active in Lexington. He owns Gainsboro Farm in Versailles, Kentucky and is an active participant in horse sales, breeding, and racing. Darley Stud is a global breeding operation owned by the Sheikh. It stands stallions at stud in six different countries. According to Wikipedia, “Darley currently stands more than 50 stallions around the world.”
According to Darley Stud’s website Sheikh Mohammed is quoted as saying, “Breeding and racing horses is one of my great joys, and a challenge that I relish sharing with my family and friends. I wish you good luck with the horses in your life, and thank you for considering the Darley stallions.” A true gentleman.
Darley Stud is also very active in charities in Lexington. The Markey Cancer Foundation has received significant donations from the organization in the past. His wife, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya bint Hussein is very active in the horse world as well. You might remember that she was president of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) during the World Equestrian Games that was held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010. Princess Haya is also an accomplished equestrian who has competed in international show jumping competitions.
Sheikh Mohammed’s horse farm is in the middle of the city. We visited and toured the farm, prior to going to Meydan. It was definitely a treat as not very many people get to experience this. The facilities were beautiful and the horses were well taken care of. The horsey spa was nicer than a lot of the spas I’ve seen for people! Not to mention more high-tech!
Following the trip the farm we went to Meydan! Meydan is a world-class horse racing track (they also have camel racing) and also a luxury hotel that the Sheikh built. It’s located just 15 minutes from the heart of Dubai and can be reached easily by highway. Dubai has a first-class highway and road system. There’s quite a bit of traffic, but at least the infrastructure is there. Racing starts in November and ends in March.
The last Saturday in March is the Dubai World Cup, which is the richest day in horse racing around the world. According to the web site, the Dubai World Cup is a $30 million dollar race day. That’s quite a payday! All the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the world race on that day. It’s hot during the day so all the races begin at 3:45pm. More than 50,000 people attend this event, including many international and national celebrities.
My birthday always falls around World Cup day so a group of us get together for breakfast (the time difference) to watch the races. It’s always cool to watch since I’ve been there. It’s interesting to see jockeys from all over the world that we never see here in Kentucky. The same for horses and trainers. I usually don’t have much luck betting the races, but it’s still fun!
During the World Cup they even have a fashion show! Dubai ladies love fashion. There is a reason why they have the largest malls in the world. Best Dressed Lady, Best Hat, etc. I’ve seen many photos on Instagram and they really go all out. Beautiful fashion and hats.
Photo by Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News
We were able to tour the private room that the royal family watches races from during the meet. It was a beautiful room with gold, brightly colored enamel and Swarovski crystals adorning the room. But don’t look for the betting windows, because gambling is against the law in Dubai and the UAE. This is in keeping with Muslim law.
Photos of all the past winners are located on a wall within the viewing room. The photos don’t do the wall justice, it’s really beautiful. You may recognize some of the past winners.
Meydan Hotel is built-in the form of a wave in motion. The lines and the architecture of the building are amazing. It’s the first (and probably only) 5-star trackside hotel in the world.
When you walk in you are amazed by the sheer size of the lobby of the hotel. It’s very modern, just like the city. Lots of glass and gleaming steel. Everything in Dubai sparkles.
The paintings of the UAE rulers are so large, you can see the comparison with the people. Everything is bigger and better in Dubai!
The bar area in the hotel is lovely.
Photo courtesy of Meydan
Just think, you could sit by the infinity pool, get a tan and watch the ponies. That sure gives a new meaning to “winning”! And, according to the website all rooms have balconies that overlook the race track as well. The hotel website says they are currently updating the infinity pool. Looks pretty good to me!
Photo by Meydan
Photo by Meydan
Dubai is an absolutely wonderful place to visit. The people are very welcoming. In the recent Travel & Leisure’s The World’s Best edition, Emirates Airlines was ranked the #2 best airline (I can attest to the quality!), and the Dubai International Airport is ranked #3rd. Dubai is a tourist destination, they appreciate visitors, and make them feel very welcome. It should definitely be on your bucket list! xoxox