Date palm is one of the most economically important woody crops cultivated in the Middle East and North Africa and is a good candidate for improving agricultural yields in arid environments. Nonetheless, long generation times (5-8 years) and dioecy (separate male and female trees) have complicated its cultivation and genetic analysis. To address these issues, we assembled a draft genome for a Khalas variety female date palm, the first publicly available resource of its type for a member of the order Arecales. The ∼380 Mb sequence, spanning mainly gene-rich regions, includes >25,000 gene models and is predicted to cover ∼90% of genes and ∼60% of the genome. Sequencing of eight other cultivars, including females of the Deglet Noor and Medjool varieties and their backcrossed males, identified >3.5 million polymorphic sites, including >10,000 genic copy number variations. A small subset of these polymorphisms can distinguish multiple varieties. We identified a region of the genome linked to gender and found evidence that date palm employs an XY system of gender inheritance.