Dubai: The first round of the Fazza Youlah Championship, which has a Dh1 million grand prize, was held on Friday at Al Meydan Fort of Global Village, featuring performances of the traditional sport by youngsters.
Hamdan Al Ahbabi (number 11) and Saud Al Hairi (number 10) were selected by the public to compete in the next round of competition, joining four other qualifiers.
Organised and supervised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Heritage Centre (HHC) to revive heritage sports, 16 finalists are vying for the grand prize of Dh1 million and the championship cup over 13 rounds of the competition, held every Friday at 9pm.
‘Youlah’ is a folk performance where an iconic rifle is spun around to the rhythmic beat of Emirati traditional music. Youlah as a sport began with real weapons in the past and then evolved into a ‘weapon’ which is hollow inside and free of ammunition. Now it has become even lighter enabling participants to display greater agility and more skills as a dance form.
Saeed Al Kaabi (number 13) kicked off the fourth episode of the championship, displaying skill in handling the Youlah weapon. He was unfazed despite failing to catch the falling weapon once, being awarded 48 points by the three-man jury comprising Rashid Al Khasooni, Hamad Al Aous Al Deri and Khalifa Bin Sabaeen.
Aseel Akram Tarek Abu Gali (number 16), a Briton of Libyan origin, appeared to be overawed by his maiden experience on the big stage but gradually picked up his pace.
“This is my first time and I was very excited. I found an opportunity to show my skills. I am very happy, pleased and delighted with my debut performance and will continue working hard to improve my skills,” said Abu Gali, who fell in love with Youlah and Al Meydan programme, which is broadcast on Sama Dubai TV, when he was living in the UK.
Suad Ebrahim Darwish, director of championships at HHC, said the finale of the championship this time will be different with an element of surprise.
“We have successfully concluded the first round of competition where 16 contestants displayed their skills and wizardry with the Youlah weapon. There have been varying degrees of skills on show but hats off to all for striving to achieve excellence on the biggest platform. The emergence of several talented youngsters has changed the equation of the championship. Experience alone does not count in the final reckoning. We can expect different results and styles as we approach the final stages of the competition. Get ready for many surprises in the New Year,” she said.
Suad Ebrahim added that the Youlah training courses are held every Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Heritage Village at Global Village from 5pm to 8pm.