The Challenge of Dubai’s Fitness Championships

31 OCT, 2017

Dubai’s fittest athletes are getting ready to compete at the Dubai Fitness Championships (DFC), the biggest sports competition in the region that takes place annually in December. DFC was created by the one and only; Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the son of the Vice President/Prime Minster of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Created in 2012, DFC is an initiative to raise awareness on the importance of physical exercise and sport in the UAE. The competition consists of testing strength, stamina, gymnastics, and overall fitness. Over the years, the competition has rapidly gained attention in the fitness world and is now considered an “international fitness competition” that attracts elite athletes from all over, including the U.S. Some may see this as a positive thing, whereas many Dubai athletes don’t.

A big factor that plays a role in attracting some of the fittest athletes to travel half way across the world to compete in a 4-day competition are the remarkably generous cash prizes. With cash prizes for top online qualifying athletes, for each workout during the competition, cash prizes for the final winners at $50,000 for 1st place, $30,000 for 2nd place, $20,000 for 3rd place, and even cash prizes for athletes ranked 4th-36th place, who wouldn’t want to compete at DFC? The organizers of the competition sometimes personally invite some of the most elite athletes from all over the world to come and compete, and even pay for their airplane tickets, their hotel, and everything in between.

It is rather frustrating and unfair when some of these elite’s compete at DFC, as it doesn’t leave much of an opportunity for the rest of Dubai’s athletes to qualify, let alone stand a chance to win. Last year, the top 5 fittest athletes in the world competed at DFC and stole almost all the cash prizes and top rankings from Dubai’s competitors, which flooded them with anger. In 2015, the top 3 male/female winners were also international athletes, who flew in from the US, Denmark, and Iceland, two of them holding the titles of the ‘Fittest Male/Female In The World’, after winning the Crossfit Games.

DFC, with even the city’s name in the title of the competition, should be a local event prioritizing the citizens of Dubai. If the competition was created to raise awareness on the importance of physical exercise in the UAE and to name the fittest champions of the city, why are they allowing international athletes to dominate the entire event?

“I successfully came in 2nd at the Dubai Fitness Championships in 2012. However, I didn’t stand a chance to even qualify for it this year, as most of the international elites have sort of taken over the entire thing,” said Emily Estall.

According to the organizers, the 2017 competition is going to be biggest and most spectacular one so far with tons of huge surprises, opportunities, and of course, the long-awaited launch of the Nike Metcon 4 trainers. According to their official website, the venue will be held at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, a great location with a huge space for thousands of spectators, companies, friends and family to come down and watch. However, how many Dubai athletes will stand a chance to compete? Probably very few.


Certainly, the fact that some of the fittest international athletes make their way to Dubai to compete at DFC is great publicity for the event as well as the country, and it certainly raises the competitiveness. However they shouldn’t be allowed to dominate almost the entire competition…there should perhaps be a limit as to how many international athletes can qualify each time. This is something that the organizers should take into consideration before planning next years event.


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