From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Aug 18 2009 - 06:41:04 EDT
Athletes visit Abu Dhabi for sports festival
Last Updated: August 18. 2009 12:22AM UAE / August 17. 2009 8:22PM GMT
ABU DHABI // Competitors from as far afield as Bangladesh, Eritrea,
Canada and the US will join sports enthusiasts from the Arab world for
the 13th Open Sports Festival, held every year during Ramadan.
With only two days remaining until registration closes, 2,100
participants have signed up to take part in the 13 events in this year's
festival, hosted by the Armed Forces Officers Club. At least 900 more
are expected to register by the Thursday deadline, in time for the
festival's kick-off on Sunday.
"This year's festival is tougher and more special in all aspects," said
Salim al Za'abi, director of the event.
"Women are taking part in eight of the 13 sporting activities, more than
any year before and unprecedented in sporting events in the Gulf. We
have a wonderful opening ceremony planned next Sunday as well."
The festival will run until September 13 and is open to everyone.
"We want people of all nationalities and cultures to take part in this
international event; we have people and champions from all over the
world coming to Abu Dhabi to compete," said Mr al Za'abi.
The Abu Dhabi Sport Council is also on the organising committee of the
event, which the secretary general, Mohammad al Mahmood, described as
one of the most important sporting events in the Gulf.
"Events such as these are crucial in encouraging youth to lead an active
life and embrace the spirit of sportsmanship," Mr al Mahmood said.
Women will take part in football, shooting, volleyball, judo, chess,
bowling, fencing, karate and electronic football via PlayStation.
Men will take part in all these games save for volleyball, as well as
wrestling, jiujitsu, boxing and foosball. Wrestling and boxing are the
new sports to be included this year.
"Some of our most popular sports so far, especially among the younger
people, seem to be jiujitsu and of course foosball and the PlayStation
games," Mr al Za'abi said.
"We are even registering children under 16 years of age in the
The opening and closing ceremonies will be aired live on Abu Dhabi
Sports Channel, which will also transmit some of the games and
In addition to the millions of dirhams that will be given out to winners
in all categories, audience members will have a chance to win daily
prizes and enter a raffle for three cars to be given away.
Musabbah al Ka'abi, general co-ordinator of the festival, described the
event as "the richest and most popular Ramadan tournament in the
"This year will witness the biggest cash prizes ever put at stake at the
championship," he said. "For example, jiujitsu is so popular that we
increased the prize from Dh60,000 to Dh100,000."
Organisers are urging all those interested to take part to register on
the website - www.afocs.com <http://www.afocs.com/> - before the
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