16 finalists vie for honours for 13 weeks at Al Meydan Fort of Global Village
DUBAI, 16th December 2017: The 13th edition of Al Meydan Program and 18th edition of the Fazza Championship for Youlah kicked off at Al Meydan Fort at Global Village with the second episode producing some exhilarating performances on Friday 16th December night which began amid the back drop an explosion of dazzling fireworks.
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 last week.
This year’s Championship will host four performers in every episode until the semifinals. Every week two contestants will be leaving if they didn’t gain enough votes from the public. Meanwhile, the semifinals will host four contestants, two of which will be competing for third and fourth place, and the other two will be competing for first and second place.
Large crowds who braved the chilly weather were treated to a brilliant exhibition of Youlah skills during the hour-long program in Global Village in Dubai and were also entertained to renditions from young Emirati singer Faisal Al Jassim and couplets from Nabati poet Abdullah Al Daree.
Abdulrahman Abdullah Khalifa Salem (number 3) from Bahrain was the first contestant to take the stage in the second episode. He exuded confidence and was all smiles as he gave a pleasing performance showing good skills. However, he lacked power in throwing up the weapon failing to hit the bell in four attempts and losing his balance despite regaining his composure. He was awarded 46 points (out of fifty) for his effort by the Jury.
Young Emirati Saeed Mohammed Al Ketbi (number 6) from Al Ain thrilled the audience with an explosive performance. He displayed amazing dexterity in handing the Youlah weapon with both hands and great technique in throwing it up. He hit the bell at the 17-metre six times though failing to catch it clean twice to earn a creditable 47 points much to the delight of the audience.
The evening’s show reached a crescendo when Matar Ali Ahmed Rashed Al Habsi (number 7) from Ras Al Khaimah raised the roof with a brilliant all-round performance. He rang the bell at the 17-metre consistently five times but fail to catch it clean during one attempt. He was awarded an incredible 49 points by the Jury for his near flawless display.
Hamad Thani Al Falasi (number 8) from Ras Al Khaimah, a finalist last year as well, gave a measured performance focusing on steps and showing his artistry with the Youlah, only making one attempt at hitting the bell without success. He was awarded 47 points for his calm and collect display by the Jury.
Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of Championships at HHC, thanked the contestants, the audience, organizing committee and Sama Dubai for showing the first episode of the program and the Fazza championship for the season of 2017-18 with state-of-the-art digital technology.
“We have witnessed a remarkable development over the past 13 years in the Meydan program, which is broadcast on the small screen and reaches millions of viewers in the country and abroad. It highlights the heritage of the people of the UAE and highlights the success of this legacy,” she said.
Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish said competitions like Youlah embody the Center’s initiatives to conserve and promote traditional sports among the new generation.
“We have been conducting the Fazza Championship for Youlah for the past 18 years. We are reaping the results of having programs throughout the year for the youth of the country to exercise their skills in this unique traditional sport. Most of the contestants are graduates of competitions for Fazza Championship Summer Youlah for Junior and Fazza Championship Youlah for Schools. It is very important that the new generation grow up with a passion for the sport of Youlah,” she said.
In the first episode, Saeed Ali Salem Al Ketbi (number 1) got 47 points while the other three contestants got 48 points each.
As a result of the popular demand to practice Youlah, it was announced that special training programs will begin today at Al Meydan Fort in Global Village for children below the age of 14 and will be conducted by professionals in the sport. It is open to everyone and will be held three times a week from 5pm to 8pm.
Emirati singer Faisal Al Jassim enthralled the audience during an interlude in the competition delivering patriotic songs.
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; Hamad Thani Al Falasi (number 8) of UAE; Saeed Ali Hamad Ali Al Kaabi (number 9) of UAE; Saif Sultan Saeed Al Ketbi (number 10) of UAE; Mohammed Abdullah Hamdan bin Dalmook (number 11) of UAE; Aseel Akram Tariq Abu Ghalih (number 12) of UK; Abdullah Suhail Amer Al Ketbi (number 13) of UAE; Saud Mohammed Jumaa Al-Hairi (number 14) of UAE; Hamdan bin Musleh Al Ahbabi (number 15) of UAE; Hamdan Saeed Al Rumaithi (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.
‘Youllah’ 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.