DUBAI, 14th March 2018: The 18th Fazza Open Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle organized and supervised by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre (HHC) for locals, residents and GCC nationals began on Wednesday 14th March with a grand opening ceremony at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Shooting Range in Ruwayyah, Dubai.
Major General Mohammed Saeed Al Marri, Director of Community Happiness at Dubai Police, and Major General Rashid Bin Aber Al Hamli, Chairman of the UAE Shooting and Archery Federation, attended the inauguration accompanied by His Excellency Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook, CEO of HHC, Mohamed Abdullah Bin Dalmook, Director of Corporate Support at HHC, Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of Championships at HHC, and other leading officials from HHC.
Major General Mohammed Saeed Al Marri presented a limited edition trophy from Dubai Police to HHC which was received by H.E. Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook.
Major General Mohammed Saeed Al Marri thanked His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, for his support for all heritage sports activities and championships.
“We are reaping success because the standard of organizing keeps improving every year in this championship making us proud. I always make sure to attend the opening ceremony of this particular event,” he said.
“This championship also helps us spread awareness of our social heritage. Saktoun rifle shooting as a sport is a very important part of our culture. Also, it is in shooting that we managed to win our first ever Olympic gold medal. We should encourage this heritage sport to produce new champions to bring glory to the nation,” he added.
Major General Mohammed Saeed Al Marri said the Fazza Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle is an important step to spread the sport around the region.
“This championship is an important step towards that process. The competition is very interesting and exciting. Having a lot of regional contestants raises the standard of competition. I really hope this would gain in popularity across the region,” he said.
H.E. Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook said the Fazza Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle has become an important destination for aficionados of this heritage sport.
“In the past five years, we have a reached a stage where this championship is now set in stone. Contestants look forward to this championship every year because of the standard of organization as well. We have improved the way participants register and how the scores are monitored, in addition to taking care of minute details such as the type of ammunition used for Saktoun rifle shooting,” he said.
“This all comes in adhering to the best practices of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. As a result, today the Fazza Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle is one of the biggest and richest shooting tournaments in the region and actually in the world. It has grown in popularity attracting a large number of contestants each year, which is the highest for any event in the region. They are keen to participate because they have gained proficiency in shooting the Saktoun rifle in this particular championship,” he added.
H.E. Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook hoped this championship would not only be a regional event but evolve into an international competition in future.
“We are delighted to see that this 18th edition enjoys huge participation. We hope to support women in this field since there has been an increasing number of women and girls competing. We are willing to prepare new women shooters for the future,” he said.
The Championship began with qualifying rounds for Men and Elderly Men which attracted a large number of entries from Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE. No less than 600 registered in the Men’s Open category on the first day with each heat comprising 30 contestants to select the best 25 shooters who will advance to the finals which will be held in six categories on Saturday, including for Women and Girls.
Shooters trained for three consecutive days in preparation for the Fazza Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle (Open) for both men and women which will continue until March 17th, while the Fazza Open Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle (Locals) will be held on Sunday March 18th at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Shooting Range in Ruwayyah.
A women’s competition was held by the Organizing Committee on the sidelines of the training sessions in order to encourage the shooters to regain confidence and gain positive energy before the start of the main tournament.
Among the Emirati women shooters who are aiming for glory are Afra Khalifa Al Badi and Rodha Al Khadar who have put in many hours of training.
Winner of the Fazza Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle Women’s Open event in 2014, Afra Al Badi, a captain in the Dubai Police will be making a comeback of sorts.
“I began training a week ago after laying off from the sport for the past one year. There is no competition like this championship. It is nice to see more women taking part now. The competition is also getting tougher because some people training every day,” said 38-year-old Afra Al Badi who has represented UAE in international competitions and shot a score of 78 during training on Tuesday.
Roda Al Khadar, a 26-year-old Accounting graduate was excited to be competing for the second time in the Fazza Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle Women’s Open in which she was placed 13th on her debut last year.
“I have been preparing for this championship since September. I was ranked among 20 best shooters in the military championship last year. I keep training every month even if I am travelling. I don’t take long breaks,” said Roda who got a score of 76 in training.
“The arrangements for this championship are the best. Everyone is helpful and we are provided rifles and ammunition free. But the competition is getting tougher because the level of shooters are improving,” she said.
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.
Al Saktoun Rife is a traditional weapon renowned for its accuracy and used in the past by tribesmen for fishing and hunting, as well as during war.