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Traditional Sports In United Arab Emirates

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The UAE has seen significant changes in the past 47 years since its founding. It has changed from a barren, hopeless land, to one full of hope and opportunity. From building the world’s tallest skyscraper to discovering one of the world’s biggest oil reserves, the UAE has developed in all aspects leaving no area lacking. In spite of the UAE’s short presence, it has built up its own customs that are prominent from the neighboring nations. As the case for any nation, there is couple of traditional games that are passed down from one generation to the next and each country must preserve them at any cost for it is part of their identity.

UAE’s oldest traditional sports include falconry, camel racing, horse racing and Dhow racing. Falconry started as a hunting method to obtain food. It later developed into a traditional sport. It needs great skill and patience to train and discipline the Falcone. It isn’t known when this sport came to exist yet some historians believe that it goes back to 2000 years based on historic texts. Camel racing has also become a traditional sport in the UAE. Previously, Bedouin believed that camels where a blessing from god, as they gave them everything from transportation, to clothing and even food. Preparing a camel to race takes effort and time. It takes around three months to prepare a camel for a race. Amid preparing, camels are required to practice and additionally eat an exceptional diet. Camels are dealt with like competitors in anticipation of races.

Horse racing is more popular as compared to camel racing in the UAE. Horse racing can be enjoyed at most of the major clubs. The Dubai World Cup horse race is the world’s richest horse race and can be enjoyed in Dubai. The Arabian horse adapted to the desert climate, and was valued by the Bedouin people. Today, it’s one of the expensive breeds in the world due to its “rich” blood. Dhow racing is also a traditional sport revered by UAE nationals. Dhows were used for pearl diving. Traditional sailing races are held from October to April. Dhows line up at the start line, bringing back the customs and traditions of the past. Great attention is paid to the preparation of the boats and their massive rigs. These sports were practiced even before the union of the UAE and have been an important part of everyday Bedouin life. To get more insight on the subject, I decided to interview someone knowledgeable about this matter, so I turned to my uncle who was born in 1959.

My uncle has a passion for the desert and falcons and he often takes his falcons to the desert to train them. During the interview I asked him why he keeps on training his falcons despite being such a busy man, to which he replied “we are developing in a very fast pace that people are starting to lose their heritage. Going out to the desert keeps me grounded and in touch with reality”. I also asked if he knew about famous athletes from other countries he replied saying that he was a huge fan of Mohammed Ali and that he used to watch him on TV in the early ‘70s.

After the UAEs union in 1971, the UAE has been adopting more western sports. Football is one the most popular and favorite sports in the UAE after camel and horse racing. The United Arab Emirates Football Association was formed in 1971. The UAEFA has spent its time improving the abilities of its players since then. This led to The UAE national football team’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup in 1990.

There are a lot of sports stadiums across UAE. Abu Dhabi, which is the capital city, has become the global center for Jiu Jitsu, The Mubadala arena has also been built to host the tournaments in Abu Dhabi which is the envy of the Jiu Jitsu world. It has become a popular sport in the whole nation in a short amount of time. Jiu Jitsi is also used by the military as a form of self-defense.

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