Dubai's 'breathtaking' Meydan city targeted at being the world-beater

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2007, 12:00am

Dubai World Cup prize money will go to at least US$10 million in 2010 when it moves to a new home unveiled by Dubai ruler and Godolphin principal, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum.

The stakes increase, likely to be shadowed by increases for the support programme as well, was announced at the World Cup meeting by Dubai Racing Club chairman Saeed Humaid Al-Tayer, complementing last Friday night's announcement of the new racecourse and facilities.

At a special function featuring laser lights bounced off the famous Burj Al Arab seven-star hotel, a race-themed dance show and a stunning multimedia presentation, Sheikh Mohammad unveiled 'Meydan', a billion dollar horse-racing city. The 67,000,000 square foot project will be developed on the existing Nad Al Sheba racecourse and land adjacent to it, upgrading the current facilities to become world's best racing, stabling and training facilities.

The five-storey grandstand will stretch for 1,000 metres and include corporate entertainment areas, a five-star hotel and convention facilities, parking for 10,000 cars as well as seating for 50,000-60,000 people, giving the racecourse alone a greatly increased capacity to host up to 80,000 fans comfortably on race days. Al-Tayer promised that the entire venue would be ready by the 2010 World Cup but the club anticipates no disruptions to staging the meeting in the next two years while the construction proceeds, even though the current configuration of the turf track inside the dirt track is to be reversed and the turf track expanded to 2,400m.

With racing clubs everywhere switching from dirt tracks to various types of synthetic surface, no decision had been made yet on the composition of the artificial surface.

But in addition to its 'world's best' racing facilities, Meydan will feature a Godolphin gallery and museum, waterways and marinas, new luxury apartment and residential zones, shopping, entertainment and restaurant areas all spread through lush green parklands and topped with iconic high-rise towers.

'The only thing I can say is that I don't see a retractable roof over the parade yard, so we still have something on Dubai,' said Hong Kong Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'But seriously, this is breathtaking. You have to say that Sheikh Mohammad's vision is absolutely magnificent. We can be proud of the fact that the architects did take some of their ideas away from an in-depth tour of our facilities in Hong Kong, but this takes everything to a whole new level.'

Al-Tayer thanked the anonymous assistance of other racing clubs: 'There are so many contributors to the final design - even if they were not aware of it at the time. We wanted to develop a world class facility and I cannot think of any other racecourse that will rival it.'

He said the club would continue to increase prize money to attract the best horses to Dubai and suggested 'around US$10 million' as the likely Cup stakes for 2010, but Sheikh Mohammad in a subsequent television interview said he envisaged prize money as 'at least US$10 million' by then.