This report of the opening night of Fujairah’s Al Saif Traditional Sword Championship, 2011, is written by media personality and member of the Al Saif Organizing Committee, Shaikha Al Mesmari.
Sword Championship 2011
11/11/11 was the date that witnessed the launch of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Al Sharqi, the Fujairah Crown Prince's Award "Al Saif Championship" at the Fujairah Fort, in an evening full of excitement and enthusiasm. The launch was attended by His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Hamad Al Sharqi, son of His Highness the ruler of Fujairah, and a number of important local personalities. The championship was an outcome of His Highness the Crown Prince's strong belief in the importance and necessity of communication between young generations and the Arabic heritage, traditions and customs.
Al Saif arena witnessed the first round of Al Saif Championship at the front yard of the Fujairah Fort, and the first episode of the Award of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Al Sharqi, the Crown Prince of Fujairah was filmed. The filming and broadcasting of the Championship is an important tribute and a vital element in conveying a live, vivid and bright image of this form of traditional heritage (Al Mzafin).
The Championship started with a number by Al Mazyood Band, who presented a beautiful traditional performance which was met by a loud cheer from the enthusiastic crowd who, males and females, came driven some by their love and passion for Al Mzafin, and some, especially the tourists, by curiosity to know more about this traditional art form.
The episode brought together Al Mzafin, poetry, and Arabic music at the Saif arena. All rounds of the championship will be held at the front yard of the Fujairah Fort, which was expanded to allow more room for movement and a wider range for the audience to follow the contestants and the jury formed by those interested in the art of Al Mzafin: Sultan Melaih, Rashed Al Yammahi, Taresh Rashid and Rashid Al Shehhi.
Sixteen elite contestants chosen from the preliminaries are participating in the Award of His Highness the Crown Prince "Al Saif championship". These 16 contestants are divided into 8 contestants per episode. The jury gives its opinion and evaluates each contestant while the highest score will be calculated at later stages of the championship. The outcome of the jury's evaluation will be equal to 40 points which will turn to 400 points, with each stage having its particular system.
New Dance Song
The first episode of the Award of His Highness the Crown Prince of Fujairah started with a new song by Emirati singer Aitha Al Menhali, called " Mzafin Al Saif", and the contestants moved skillfully and beautifully with the rhythms of the song.
The episode contained 4 rounds initiated by contestant number (46), Yousif Darwish Al Dhohouri and contestant number (47), Hamed Al Kemzari Al Shehhi, and the first round ended with 260 points for Al Dhohouri and 280 points for Al Kemzari Al Shehhi, followed by contestant number (43), Taleb Slayyem Al Shehhi who earned 240 points and contestant number (35), Saif Ahmed Khamies Al Yammahi who earned 280 points in the second round. The third round was performed by contestant number (39) Yamaz Saeed Rashed Al Shehhi who got 300 points, and contestant Sulaiman Ahmad Al Shehhi, holding number (40) which is a special number in these days of celebrating the 40th National Day of the UAE. Al Shehhi earned 310 points. In the fourth and last round, contestant number (48), Mohammad Saif Mohammad Kemzar Al Shehhi, earned 290 points, while contestant number (38) Abdulla bin Saadoun Al Shehhi earned 310 points.
Sultan Melaih, member of the Championship's Jury, stated that the competition was strong between the contestants who showed a high level of skill and control of the sword. He added that he expects more excellence in the upcoming rounds, hoping that the contestants will keep the observations of the jury in mind and use them to advance their skills and performance in the next rounds. Melaih talked about the second episode of the championship, saying that "it will contain 8 new contestants with 4 rounds and the competition will be fierce."
Al Saif arena witnessed great interaction between the audience, who had the luxury of more seats than last year, and the pleasure of watching the skill and creativity of the contestants' movements with the symbol of manhood and bravery, the sword. The audience was not only limited to males; a lot of Emirati and expatriate families attended the first evening of the competition, including visitors of the Emirate of Fujairah, who came to enjoy the atmosphere of the championship and its associated activities like bull fighting, Al Youla traditional dancing, in addition to fishermen's songs and heritage quizzes in the Heritage Village.
Poetry and Song
The first evening of the championship also witnessed beautiful performances from singer Oraib and poet Khaled Al Dhanhani, who entertained the audience with wonderful selection of songs and poems. Al Dhanhani dedicated a poem to His Highness the Crown Prince of Fujairah, the championship's patron, and thanked the organizing committee of the championship for their efforts in showing the Award of His Highness the Crown Prince of Fujairah in a way worthy of his name.
Singer Oraib expressed her happiness for being in the Emirate of Fujairah and meeting her audience. She sang two songs: the first one was Al Habeeb Al Awwali written by His Highness Rashid bin Hamad Al Sharqi, and the second song was Fedait Sootek written by Mohammad Saeed Al Dhanhani, which was met by a loud cheer from the audience. The contestants showed off their skill with the sword and their graceful moves with the rhythms of the songs in beautiful performances accompanied by the audience's cheers and clapping.
National Identity and Spirit
The Organizing Committee of the Saif Championship stated that they're doing their best to make the championship a success. They explained that these efforts are combined together to make the championship an event worthy of the name of the Crown Prince of Fujairah who seeks to promote the national identity and instill patriotism, and who is following all the details of the championship that brought together in one place all the people interested in the art of Al Mzafin, to compete and participate from the 11th of November to the 16th of December.
Thanks to Shaikha Al Mesmari for writing this article and allowing it to be posted on Fujairah in Focus. Shaikha is Media Officer for the Emiri Court, radio presented on Fujairah FM and member of the Al Saif Organizing Committee.
Take a Look
Some photos of Friday night’s sword championship taken by Dr. Michele Ziolkowski are posted with thanks, in this photo album.
Some photos of the heritage activities (bull butting, falcons, sword dancing, food etc.) on Friday night (11/11/11) are posted in this photo album.
Some photos of opening night (Thursday 10/11/11) at the Al Saif Championship & Heritage Festival are posted in this photo album.
Your copy of the Al Saif Traditional Sword Championship and Heritage Festival each weekend until 17 December, is posted at this link.
Because the program keeps changing, stay abreast of these developments by clicking LIKE on the Al Saif Competition Page.
Contact details for enquiries and more information are posted at this link.
More Fujairah news, information, resources and photos are posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.
Images: Photo of the sword championship courtesy of Dr. Michele Ziolkowski.