DUBAI, 20th January 2018: The traditional Emirati folk art of Youlah is gaining international acclaim thanks to the brilliant performances in the 18th edition of the Fazza Championship for Youlah and 13th edition of Al Meydan Program being held to packed audiences every Friday night at Al Meydan Fort of Global Village.
Saeed Mohammed Sweidan Al Ketbi became the second contestant to qualify for the Semi-Finals (Golden Square) of the competition, it was announced during the seventh episode on Friday 19th January much to the delight of his supporters. Matar Ali Ahmed Rashed Al Habsi advanced to the last four stage during the sixth episode with the competition entering the decisive final phases.
More significantly the skills of Yuweel artistes expertly wielding an unrealistic model of the traditional ‘Saktoun’ rifle which is also thrown high in the air to dramatically sound the laser bell at 17 or 20 meters, has caught the eye of people from diiferent nationalities who are now encouraging their children to practice this heritage sport.
Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of Championships at HHC, was pleased to note that interest in Youlah is spreading beyond the region.
“Youlah has gained a huge popularity. We have harnessed and maintained its stature as a very traditional Emirati thing. Now we are getting a lot of requests from different countries, especially from Asian countries to send groups of youngsters for Youlah training because they think it is kind of an amazing traditional heritage sport,” she said.
There has been a tremendous response for HHC’s initiative to preserve heritage sports by conducting Youlah training courses every Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Heritage Village at Global Village from 5 pm to 8 pm.
“It is heartening to see children from various nationalities taking part in this training program. Parents are bringing more children for Youlah. It is attracting a lot of interest because it has been supported by the parents of children. It is difficult to bring children over regularly because they have schooling and other extra-curricular activities. I really appreciate the dedication shown by parents to instill the importance of heritage activities among the new generation,” said Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish.
At the outset of the seventh episode, there was suspense in the air after the fireworks in the background had subsided as everyone waited eagerly to find out who would advance to the ‘Golden Square’ stage after both Mabkhout Salem Hamad Al Ameri and Saeed Mohammed Sweidan Al Ketbi were credited with 48 points each in the earlier round.
Before the announcement of the result, a video of the challenge of making handicrafts between Al Ameri and Al Ketbi was shown. The winner of this traditional challenge is credited 2500 votes. Saeed Al Ketbi, a popular winner, surpassed his counterpart and added 2500 votes to his final count in the public voting while Mabkhout Al Ameri bowed out of the competition gracefully.
Hamdan bin Musleh Al Ahbabi (number 11) and Saif Sultan Saeed Al Ketbi (number 14) were the third pair of contestants who faced off in the second round of the competition during the seventh episode.
The performance of Hamdan Al Ahbabi was characterized by a calm and calculated approach. He began slowly virtually measuring his steps while twirling his Youlah weapon in a display of artistry before unleashing his awesome throwing skills. He rang the laser bell at the 17-meter mark five consecutive times catching the falling weapon cleanly with his right hand smartly despite a wayward second throw. The three-member Jury awarded him 49 points for his near flawless classy act.
Then, Saif Al Ketbi, a newcomer in the big league showed great character and courage though wincing after dropping the falling weapon with his first throw. He began slowly treading the ground softly with short steps in rhythmic movement to music before unveiling his throwing skills. He recovered from the early setback displaying great composure and gaining in confidence to hit the laser bell at the 17-meter four consecutive times thereafter without allowing the weapon to fall on the ground. He was awarded 48 points by the Jury for his cool performance on another chilly night in Dubai.
Organized and supervised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) to revive heritage sports, 16 finalists are vying for the grand prize of AED 1 million and the Fazza Youlah Championship Cup over 13 rounds of the competition every Friday at 9pm.
Held at HHC’s Heritage Village at Dubai’s Global Village, the qualifying rounds saw the participation of 411 contestants, prior to the launch of the Youlah Championship in December.
This year’s Championship saw four performers in every episode until the second round and ‘Golden Square’ stage. The ‘Golden Square’ round will comprise four contestants, two of whom will be competing for third and fourth place, and the other two will be competing for first and second place.
The tournament organizers announced that voting for the finalists should be according to their numbers as follows: Saeed Ali Salem Al Ketbi (number 1) of UAE; Mabkhout Salem Hamad Al Ameri (number 2) of UAE; Abdulrahman Abdullah Khalifa Salem (number 3) of Bahrain; Rashid Saeed Bin Harmash Al Mansouri (number 4) of UAE; Thamer Rashed Masood Al Maamari (number 5) of Oman; Saeed Mohammed Sweidan Al Ketbi (number 6) of UAE; Matar Ali Ahmed Rashed Al Habsi (number 7) of UAE; Hamdan Saeed Al Rumaithi (number 8) of UAE; Abdullah Suhail Amer Al Ketbi (number 9) of UAE; Saud Mohammed Jumaa Al Hairi (number 10) of UAE; Hamdan bin Musleh Al Ahbabi (number 11) of UAE; Hamad Thani Al Balkadeeda Al Falasi (number 12) of UAE; Saeed Ali Hamad Ali Al Kaabi (number 13) of UAE; Saif Sultan Saeed Al Ketbi (number 14) of UAE; Mohammed Abdullah Hamdan bin Dalmook (number 15) of UAE; Aseel Akram Tarek Abu Ghali (number 16) of UAE
The official sponsors of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center are: Al Tayer Motors Land Rover, Dubai Airports, Dubai World Trade Centre, AW Rostamani (Arabian Automobiles), Global Village and Al Oula radio station.
‘Youlah’ is a well-established folk performance over the years where an iconic rifle is spun around to the rhythmic beat of Emirati traditional music. One of the heritage traditions performed by the young and the not so elderly during ceremonies, Youlah as a sport began with real weapons in the past and then evolved into a weapon used with a hollow inside and free of ammunition. Now it has become even lighter enabling participants to display greater agility and more skills in a dance form.