The Fujairah Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, is working hard to preserve and promote the traditional sports of the Emirati people.
His Highness is sponsoring the inaugural Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition with the intention that this will be an annual event in the emirate of Fujairah.
Showcasing Traditional Sports
The sword sports have been practised for hundreds of years by the shihuh (highlander) tribes in the mountains of Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah and in neighbouring Oman.
Many city people are familiar with this tradition as frequently men from the highlands will demonstrate their sword skills as part of the entertainment at Emirati weddings.
Work In Progress
The details of the first annual Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition in Fujairah are yet to be finalised but at a sword skills demonstration this week at the Fujairah Fort some of the features became apparent.
+ In the first week of October, announcements via the media channels will give notice of the competition and call for registrations. A call centre will be established to give information on the competition.
+ The qualifying rounds will commence by mid-October, to be held in smaller towns such as Masafi and Dibba as well as in the city of Fujairah. These competitions may be held at schools and at community events in order to generate interest in this first competition.
+ The semi-finals and finals are likely to be held in the grounds of the Fujairah Fort with the final scheduled for 10 December 2010.
Rules of the Competition
+ Because this is the first time the sword competition is being run the rules of the competition are still being formulated.
+ Thought is proceeding on the feasibility of holding team competitions in addition to contests between individuals.
+ The two aspects of the competition will be sword dueling and the throwing and catching of swords (the highest throw that is caught).
The Sword Experience
Along with the sword skills there are other attractive features, notably the dancing with the swords to the sound of traditional Emirati music.
The level of danger involved in the catching of the swords creates tension and contributes to the interest of the public. While the swords are not razor sharp they are pointed and they can do serious damage if they fall in the wrong place or are caught incorrectly.
The generous prizes reflect the commitment of the Crown Prince to fostering the traditions of his people and showcasing them for others to enjoy.
The prizes will be formally announced in the next few days but organizers indicated these provisional details (N.B. this is subject to confirmation):
Contestants who get one of the places from 4th to 10th spot will each receive AED 10,000.
Getting the Point
It is heartening to see the action of the Crown Prince in supporting a traditional sport that is specialized and conducted only in remote areas of the emirate.
Organizers are estimating that approximately 64 men will contest this inaugural Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition but giving it prominence each year through these annual competitions is likely to encourage many young people to take up the sport.
More details will be added to this article as they come to hand.
Take a Look
See pictures in this photo album of some highlanders demonstrating their sword dueling, dancing, throwing and catching.
This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page upon which many more articles and links are posted than on this site.
Image: Some of the ‘highlanders’ rose to great heights in the sword dueling which all added to the entertainment value.