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Bowling takes off in UAE

 YASIR ABBASHER Senior Reporter

Gulf News December 2001 

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BOWLING is one of the most popular sports in the UAE. In the last few years, the number of bowlers, from among nationals and expatriates, has grown manifold. The increasing popularity of the game is not due merely to the inter­national achievements of the UAE in the sport, despite the fact that they are tremendous and outstanding, but because bowling is a fun family game that everyone can enjoy — the men, the ladies, the young, the old, the fit and even the unfit.

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The UAE have many outstanding achievements in bowling on and off the lanes of the game. Their ace bowler Mohammed Khalifa Al Qubeissi won the World Cup in 1988 and was named the Best Bowler in the World in 1994 by the FIQ (Inter­national   Bowline   Federation). Qubeissi and his other colleagues in the UAE national bowling team have many victories in the international, and regional championships. The UAE played host to the FIQ World Championships in 1999 and also organised the Asian, Arab and  GCC championships. Its officials have been voted to the membership of the international and continental bodies of the game. Dr. Abdulla Abdul Karim was the Secretary Gen­eral, while his brother Ahmed is still the Vice President of the FIQ, the highest governing body of the game.The UAE has also senior seats in the Asian, Arab and GCC Bowling Federations and societies because of their organisational capabilities and knowledge of the game.

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The construction of many new modem bowling halls had played a major part in increasing the number of bowlers in the country, especially in Abu Dhabi, where the Khalifa International Bowling Centre was inaugurated in 1999 to host the World Championships and in Dubai where the Dubai International Bowl­ing Centre was opened this year and played host to the Asian Youth Championship in July."The untiring efforts of Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE Bowling Federation, and the continual support of the senior officials in the country led to the increase in the number of bowling centres and bowlers in the last two years," says Humaid Khali­fa, the Secretary General of the UAE BF

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"You have to wait hours for your turn at the Dubai Bowling Centre despite its 36-lane capacity and the fact that there are other centres in Dubai specially the Thunder Bowl with 24 lanes, which indicates the increasing numbers of bowlers who come for fun and family get-togeth­er," says Khalifa.There are eight clubs which will participate in the domestic competi­tions this season — Al Jazira, Barn Yas, Al Ain, Al Ahli, Al Shabab, Al Nasr, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah — with more than 250 bowlers officially registered at the UAE BF.

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Bowling is one of the few sports that brought international recognition and fame to the UAE when Mohammed Khalifa Al Qubeissi won the World Cup in 1988 in Mexi­co. Qubeissi, himself, enjoyed his fair share of world fame because of his tremendous achievements in the game on the local, regional, continental and international championships. Qubeissi's record of victories includes: Second place in the World Cup in Mexico in 1994; Third place in the World Cup in Lisbon, Portu­gal, in 2000; Asia Singles champion in Guam in 1994; Sliver medal of All Events in Guam, Asian Championships in 1994; Bronze medal of the Doubles, Asian Championship, in Guam in 1994 with Faraj Al Marry; Bronze medal of the Trio, Asian Championship, in Guam in 1994 with Al Marry and Sultan Al Mar-zougi; Silver medal of All Events, Asian Games in Hiroshima 1994 (the first Asian Games medal for the UAE); Bronze medal of the Doubles, Asian Games Hiroshima 1994, with Al Marry; Bronze medal of the Trio, Asian Games Hiroshima 1994, with Al Marry and Mohammed Ali Al Ghazal; Best Bowler in the World in 1994 according to the FIQ; Bronze medal of All Events, FIQ World Championships in Reno USA in 1995; three gold medals in Singles, All Events and Masters in the GCC Championships in Bahrain in 1989; four gold medals in the Singles, Dou­bles, Trios and All Events, in addition to two silver medals in the Teams and Masters in the GCC Championships in Abu Dhabi in 1995 which the UAE won for the first time.    

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Qubeissi, whose work obligations now prevent him from taking part in tournaments, says that the future holds a lot of promise for UAE's bowling scene, with new talented players such as Naif Ogab. Ogab was the Arab Champion in 1999 in Cairo and achieved more success in US. Others will join this list and the future looks good.

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