UAE ice hockey skates to new frontiers.
Abu Dhabi Just walking through the doors of the Abu Dhabi Ice Hockey Club (ADIHC) invites a sense of wonder, probably similar to the experience which Alice had when in wonderland.
It is hot outside the club with humidity nearing 100 per cent but the cool interiors of ADIHC are enough to make you forget about what's waiting outside.
If you thought the region was devoid of good ice skaters, you were wrong.
Not only are there good ice skaters in the UAE but champions from the GCC and Asia, too.
A feat nobody might think possible given the geographical and climatic factors of the country.
"The UAE can boast many achievements in ice hockey including winning the Asian Championship in 2009, GCC Champions in 2010 in Kuwait, runners-up in the Asian Championship in Taiwan 2010, fourth place in the World Championship for Division III in Luxembourg 2010, winners of the Asian tournament in Thailand in 2007 and Arab Cup winners in 2008," Mohammad Arif, the Technical Manager of the ADIHC, told Gulf News.
"The ice hockey game in the UAE is greatly indebted to Shaikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who both practiced the game and helped tremendously in its spread and improvement," Aref added.
A group of local youth -- who started practicing skating at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink a few years ago -- initiated interest in the game in the UAE.
Some of them have studied in universities in Europe and the US and have succeeded in encouraging their friends to learn how to ice skate too.
"They watched an ice hockey match played by a foreign team and liked the game.
"They were helped by the players to buy hockey sticks and the other gear from abroad and gradually the game flourished in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain."
In addition to Shaikh Falah and Shaikh Tahnoun, pioneers included Dr Ahmad Mubarak Al Mazroui, Mohammad Arif, Juma Al Daheri, to name but a few.
With more people gaining interest in the game, it soon led to the creation of a local league with five teams participating in the domestic Ice Hockey League (IHL).
These included: Al Ain Vipers, Abu Dhabi Storms, Dubai Camels, Al Ain Dheeps (Wolves) and Abu Dhabi Scorpions.
The Vipers are the reigning champions.
The matches are played on four rinks -- three Olympic-sized rinks in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai Mall and one NHL size rink in Al Nasr Club in Dubai.
The UAE (left) has succeeded quite a few times in international arena. Below: A victorious UAE hockey team with the GCC Championship, which they won in Kuwait earlier this year.
Dr. Ahmad Mubarak Al Mazrouei: Chairman.
Hamad Obaid Al Sheryani: CEO.
Juma Mohammad Al Dhaheri: Support Services Manager.
Mohammad Arif: Technical Manager.
Ali Ahmad Al Housani: PR and Media.
The ice hockey game in the UAE is greatly indebted to Shaikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who both practiced the game and helped tremendously in its spread."
Technical Manager, ADIHC
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