DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — We knew the athletic guys in the suite next to us at the Meydan Racecourse were no mere thoroughbred enthusiasts. But until we ventured over to ask, we had no idea a former Houston Dynamo star was in the mix.
Geoff Cameron, a star player for the Dynamo from 2008 to 2012 and a member of the United States national team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and his fellow players from the Stoke City team were enjoying a break from the cold and damp of England's winter.
"It's very different. The hardest thing is living in this climate," Cameron said of his football club's headquarters in Staffordshire. "Being in Houston and finally getting used to the heat and then jumping into cold, dark, wet and gloomy everyday was tough."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a huge racing fan and owns numerous race horses.
The Massachusetts native wasn't complaining on this balmy Dubai night. The team had been invited by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to spend a few days as his guests in the warm desert sun. Still, Cameron, said they were training each day while in Dubai.
No regrets for the soccer pro who acknowledged, "But now I'm playing in the best league in the world," the English Premiere League.
Our visit to the track coincided with the start of the Dubai World Cup Carnival which culminates March 28 with the Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline. It's the richest cup in the world with a $30 million purse including the top prize of $10 million. Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a huge racing fan and owns numerous race horses.
The Meydan Racecourse opened in 2010 with 60,000 seats including 72 slick corporate suites. The vast development includes The Meydan Hotel, named the World's Leading Sports Hotel at the 2014 World Travel Awards. It's billed as the world's first five-star, track side hotel with 284 rooms, all overlooking the racetrack.
The Emirates boasts five racetracks, some referred to as racing clubs or equestrian clubs. They are under the supervision of the Emirates Racing Authority. The racing season takes place during the cooler winter months.
Next up in Shelby's Dubai Diary: A shopper's paradise with mega malls, ice skating, snow skiing and plenty to buy. To view the previous day's story in this week long series, click here. (Shelby Hodge's trip to Dubai was hosted by Emirates Airline.)