DUBAI, 30th December 2017: The fourth episode of the 18th edition of the Fazza Championship for Youlah and 13th edition of Al Meydan Program produced sizzling displays from talented youngsters and a dash of bravado at Al Meydan Fort of Global Village on Friday 29th December night as the first round of competition concluded.
Experienced Emirati Yuweel artiste Hamdan bin Musleh Al Ahbabi (number 11) and Saud Mohammed Jumaa Al Hairi (number 10) attained the honour of being selected by the public to compete in the next round of competition joining four other qualifiers.
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.
Emirati Saeed Ali Hamad Ali Al Kaabi (number 13) kicked-off the fourth episode displaying great artistry and skill in handling the Youlah weapon. The stockily-built lad hardly put a foot wrong as he delighted the audience with his wizardry and rhythmic movements around the stage, receiving a loud ovation each time he rung the bell at the 17-metre on five out of six occasions displaying superb technique. 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.
Another young Emirati Saif Sultan Saeed Al Ketbi (number 14) gave a cool performance displaying more intent in ringing the bell than showing off his Youlah handling skills. He belied his lean frame to generate good power and display sound technique to successfully sound the bell five out of six times but failed to catch it clean on one occasion earning him 48 points as well from the Jury.
Emirati singer Mohammed Al Minhali and Nabati poet Theyab Al Mazroei regaled the audience with their renditions during the interludes. Theyab Al Mazroei, performing for the third year, was lyrical in admiration of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Mohammed Abdullah Hamdan bin Dalmook (number 15) surprised all and sundry with a courageous performance despite carrying an injury on his right shoulder. He moved around displaying his skills with the Youlah weapon before taking his time to hit the bell. He rang the bell at the 17-metre twice though failing to catch it once when it came down and then ran inside before performing a Houdini-like act to make a valiant attempt to ring the bell a third time though the Youlah weapon went crashing to the ground again. His act of bravery and steely determination earned him the accolade of all with the Jury awarding him 47 points. “I ran inside to get some ice treatment for my painful shoulder,” said Abdullah after the event putting up a brave smile throughout the evening.
Aseel Akram Tarek Abu Ghali (number 16), a Briton of Libyan origin blossomed after a nervous start to win the hearts of the packed crowd. Barely in his teens, Aseel appeared to be overawed by his maiden experience on the big stage but gradually picked up his pace in moving around and displaying good skills with the Youlah and encouraged by the audience made five attempts at ringing the bell. He was successful once while dropping the Youlah on one occasion and was even applauded by the Jury who awarded him 46 points.
“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 Aseel who fell in love with Youlah and Al Meydan program which is broadcasted on Sama Dubai TV, when he was living in the UK.
Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of Championships at HHC, said the finale of the Fazza Championship for Youlah this time will be different with an element of surprise expected.
“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.
Ms. Suad Ibrahim also noted that the Youlah training courses held every Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Heritage Village at Global Village from 5 pm to 8 pm continues to attract a large group of children and is an important step towards preparing new knights to compete at Meydan Fort in future.
The Championship organizers HHC have revised the format of competition this year with 16 finalists and a team of stand byes being chosen after a record number of 411 took part in the qualification rounds held on November 23rd and 24th at Al Meydan Fort in Global Village. Four contestants will perform during each episode from which two will qualify to the next round.
Unlike last year, the judges will not be responsible for each team of players. The players were allowed to train individually giving them the freedom to choose their trainers and practice the sport.
The public vote for the contestants will also count in the final reckoning. As the performers qualify at the various stages of the competition, the final rounds will involve the public as they get to choose their champ. Upon the number of votes the four semi-finalists will be announced accordingly in the lead up to the grand finale.
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 Hwaiden 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.