Meydan Knight
A Yuweel performing the traditional Youlah dance. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The quest to become the next Meydan Grand Knight has begun. Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre (HHC) opened the 22nd Fazza Championship for Youlah and 17th Al Meydan Programme over the weekend in Al Marmoom.

Youlah is an Emirati heritage sport that involves spinning and throwing a replica rifle made of wood and metal plating. “It is an integral part of Arab culture, having its origins in the army as a celebratory jig that was done with real weapons in the past. Nowadays, participants called ‘Yuweel’ fling the rifle as high as possible before catching it. They are judged based on their footwork and overall fluidity of performance,” HHC explained.

HHC has added swimming for the first time, aside from the additional events introduced last season. “This year, Yuweels are not only competing in traditional rifle performance but in other heritage sports as well, including horse and camel riding, shooting, swimming, plus recitation of traditional Arabic poetry.

The over-all grand winner will be hailed as the Meydan Grand Knight. A total of 16 qualifiers coming from across the UAE and other Arab countries are competing in the elimination round, with four Yuweels competing in the elimination round every Friday.

In the past editions, the over-all champion received a Dh1 million grand prize, aside from the Fazza Gold Cup.

Strong competition

Rashid Al Khasouni, HHC Director of Championships, noted: “We are pleased to see a rising participation among the Emirati youth, who are eager to take the challenge. New Yuweels are ready for the battle against former championships. This comes after the changes introduced last year in the competition. We introduced other events aside from the actual Youlah performance in order to immerse the contestants in other sports such as camel and horse riding as well as cultural events like poetry.”

Episode 1

The first episode witnessed the participation of the first group comprising Hamad Sultan Al Neyadi, Majid Khalifa Al Ghafli, Mansour Mohammed Al Falasi and Maktoum Manea Al Shamsi.

The participants began by performing Youlah collectively to the rhythm of the song ‘Our Sheikh Muhammad’ from the words of HHC CEO Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook. In this event, Al Neyadi obtained 48 points, Al Ghafli, 47; Al Falasi, 48, and Al Shamsi,49

In the swimming competition that was held at Hamdan Sports Complex, Al Shamsi and Al Falasi both scored 10 points each; while in the horse-riding endurance race, done in cooperation with Dubai Mounted Police, 20 marks each were received by Al Shamsi and Al Falasi. In the recitation of the poem “Fifty Years Before and After” by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Al Neyadi and Al Ghafli received 10 marks each. In Saktoun shooting, Al Falasi and Al Shamsi excelled with 15 marks each. Al Neyadi and Al Shamsi also excelled in camel riding.

After tallying their scores, Maktoum Al Shamsi and Mansour Al Falasi will advance to the next round.