6 Loved Sports in the Middle East

Most Played Sports in the Arab world

Sports have been popular in the Middle East for millennia. In fact, archaeologists have found wall carvings that depict wrestling scenes from the time of pharaohs. In addition, Arab Sheikhs have flown their falcons across Arabian skies for hundreds of years. 

At the same time, Bedouins have raced their Arabian steeds across the desert sands, and in the UAE, they still race their camels. Increasingly you’ll find Emirati youth participating in what America calls soccer and the rest of the world calls football. Indeed, sports are a vital part of the Emirati culture today as they were in the ancient Arab world.

While soccer is one of the most popular sports in the Middle East and throughout the world, it’s worth noting the region also has a diverse range of other sports. Have you ever heard of oil wrestling or Saluki dog racing, for example? Those are two popular sports that originate from the Middle East. Nonetheless, the following is a list of some of the popular sports being played in the Arab world.


Football or soccer in the Middle East has become one of the most popular sports played in the Arab world. In fact, some jokingly call it the second religion of the UAE. 

The Abu Dhabi United Group purchased Manchester City Football Club in 2008 and the club has gone on to win six Premier League titles to date. Another sign of the Arabs’ love for football is Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup. 

While betting is prohibited in most Middle Eastern countries, sports enthusiasts can nevertheless place bets on their preferred teams by using VPNs. There are Arabic betting sites that can assist you in finding the best welcome bonuses and giving you a thorough evaluation of each online bookmaker for a number of sports. Advice is also provided on how to bet legally and safely online.


With many people from the Indian subcontinent living throughout the Emirates, it’s no wonder that cricket in the Arab world is one of the most favorite and most popular sports. In fact, numerous stadiums have been built in particular in the UAE. 

They include the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah, and three in Dubai Sports City named Dubai Cricket Ground No.1, No.2, and No 3. 

Dubai is also home to the International Cricket Council. The cricket fun can also be enjoyed online when you join fantasy cricket to play and enjoy several perks

Camel Racing

In the Arab world, camel racing is as traditional as it gets. It is one of the most popular sports throughout the Gulf region. However, as a result of strict government regulations prohibiting underage jockeys from racing, camel racing robot jockeys are now in use throughout the UAE.


In the Middle East, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, archery has a long history amongst known sports. Ancient arrowheads dating back thousands of years can be found on display at museums. For Muslims, archery has religious significance, which explains its appeal as a sporting activity.

Oil Wrestling

The sport can be traced all the way back to the 1299 founding of the Ottoman Empire. Wrestlers are teamed up and their bodies are slathered in olive oil to play the game. 

The “Kispet”, or tight, knee-length leather pants, is their only piece of apparel. To win, a player must either put his opponent on his back, or hold him upside down from his feet. In addition, you are also able to carry his full-body three steps without his foot touching the ground, rip off the Kispet, or exhaust the challenger until he quits.


Falconry is a popular sport in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf, and is said to have originated there. According to experts from Wild Flight, a falconry company in the United Arab Emirates, the sport dates back to 4,500 years ago in Central Asia. It was only 2,000 years later the sport of falconry was brought to the Middle East.

Originally, falconers employed the birds to feed their families by hunting with them. During the seasonal winter migration, men would set out to capture falcons for four to five months, then teach them to catch prey during the second wave of bird migration.


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