Worldsport

Dubai World Cup: Bubbles and cuddles at world's richest horse race

Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT) March 26, 2014
Share
martin.dubai.12martin.dubai.12
1 of 16
While most photographers are training their lens on the horses at the Dubai World Cup, others, like Martin von den Driesch, prefer to concentrate on the human spectacle. The world's richest horse race runs every March, attracting around 60,000 spectators who arrive from all over the world to experience the highlight of the emirate's social calendar. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Von den Driesch has been based in Dubai for the past seven years following a 13-year stay in Moscow, Russia. "90% of people in Dubai are expats or foreigners, so I find it a very interesting mix going to the Dubai World Cup. I'm looking for interesting situations, interesting people," the German says. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
The Dubai World Cup has taken place annually since 1996. Before the action begins at the Meydan Racecourse, patrons are treated to a spectacular firework display. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
The party atmosphere is heightened by the appearance of a flash mob. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (center) is one of horse racing's most prominent owner/breeders and is always an interested observer at the Dubai World Cup. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
"I like this idea of the clash of cultures taking place at the Dubai World Cup," says von den Driesch. "On the one hand, the ruler and the Arabs following the races very seriously ..." Copyright Martin von den Driesch
"... and 50 meters away there is the Bubble Lounge with a large number of Westerners enjoying a glass of fizz. This is one of the few times a year in Dubai when the two different cultures get dangerously close," he says. Copyright MARTIN VON DEN DRIESCH
Champagne bottles, ice buckets and a rogue can of lager lie strewn across a table in the Bubble Lounge. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Von den Driesch says there are around 200 different nationalities living in Dubai and many turn up to catch a glimpse of the action using whatever means available to them. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Animated racegoers cheer on their horses. The purse for the Dubai World Cup itself is $10 million. Last year's race was won by 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Access to the main grandstand isn't reserved for just a well-heeled few. There is also a limited amount of seating available to less well-off families. Copyright Martin von den Driesch
"There are many workers who also have a good time," says von den Driesch, "sitting together with their friends and family on the grass having a picnic." Copyright MARTIN VON DEN DRIESCH
Mobile banking facilities ensure that those who do have the financial means never run out of funds to keep the party going. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Glamorous expats enjoy posing amid the party atmosphere at the Bubble Lounge. Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
The vast Meydan racecourse with its towering grandstand cost $1 billion to build and opened in 2010. Von den Driesch describes the complex as "very spectacular" and "grandiose," but lacking atmosphere at other times of the year. "It's so big that it's kind of empty on all the other racing nights -- only about 5-10,000 people turn up." Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch
Time to go home ... Copyright Martin Von Den Driesch