Dubai racing’s home is the spectacular Meydan Racecourse, about 5km southeast of downtown Dubai. Spanning 1.5km, its grandstand is bigger than most airport terminals and lidded by a crescent-shaped solar-panelled roof. It can accommodate up to 60,000 spectators and integrates a five-star hotel, restaurants, an IMAX theatre and a museum.
Racing season starts in November but doesn’t heat up until January, when the Dubai World Cup Carnival brings top horses and jockeys to Dubai. It culminates in late March with the elite Dubai World Cup, one of the world’s richest horse races, with prize money of a dizzying US$10 million. Even if you don’t like horse racing, attending a race presents great people-watching opportunities, because it attracts fans from a wide range of nationalities, ages and social backgrounds.
Meydan has a free-admission area where dress is casual. For the grandstand, you’ll need tickets and may want to dress up. Most races start at 7pm, but it's best to check the website for the exact schedule and tickets. There are also stable tours that let you meet the trainers and horses and also get close-ups of the jockeys' dressing room and the parade ring.
To get here, take Interchange No 2 from Sheikh Zayed Rd, turn left onto Al Meydan Rd and follow the signs. Alternatively it's a 15-minute taxi ride from Dubai Mall.