The UAE is set to make a smashing entry into the smashing world of Beach Volleyball, with Dubai being elected to play host to a leg of the Swatch FIVB World Beachvolleyball Tour this November.

By Duane Fonseca (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Fri 27 May 2005, 2:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:59 PM

The event, which will be held in the UAE for the first time, is sure to draw a large number of visitors from the corners of the globe, especially those from nations participating in the tour, and has set into motion the different departments which come together to form the UAE's Volleball Association.

Speaking with City Times, general secretary of the UAE-VA, Jassim Ali Rajab, motioned towards a possible huge future haul a good event will bring. "32 teams from all over the world will be participating in the event, so you can imagine what the tournament will be when it actually takes place. We had signed a three-party agreement with Abjad Sports, the promoters, and the FIVB, who have elected us to become part of this spectacular tour," said Ali Rajab.

Getting the tournament to Dubai, was not an easy task. "We applied to the FIVB almost a year back and they gave us a confirmation a few months ago. It is quite a long process, because they need to meet with the promoters and review the case, the budgets, the location and many other things related to the tournament. The promoters then have to pay the fees to the FIVB as a guarantee that the tournament will go ahead as scheduled. Even back home, we needed the permission of the government and other authorities, who regulate such matters. So, yes, it does take time. But we are very grateful to the local authorities for giving us permission for the tournament."

At the international level, the UAE, in the past, played host to the hugely successful World Youth Men's Championships. But that was more than a decade ago, in the 1989-90 season. Since then the UAE has regularly hosted the prestigious Rashid tournament other GCG and Arab tournaments.

As hosts of the November tournament, the UAE have received two automatic qualification spots in the main draw of the event comprising 24 teams. The other eight spots will be decided once the qualification tournament gets underway some time before the tournament. "The automatic qualifications spots have given us the chance to become part of this tournament and we are really looking forward to fielding a good, strong side. We are not going to take things lying down and make it easier for other teams to have an easy time with us. In fact, apart from the two already assigned spots, the association is looking forward to fielding sides that will vie against the other qualifying nations for more spots in the tournament." The qualifying tournament, Ali Rajab said, will be held at the Al Ahli Club, where teams from Asia and the Middle East, will vie for the final eight filler spots.

As far as the UAE's experience in beach volleyball goes, every attempt to win glory, so far, has been limited to the regional level. "This is a historic moment for us because for the first time a UAE team will be participating at the highest level. Our teams have played at the GCC and Arab Championships, and we've even hosted a few tournaments, but this is a great opportunity for us to show the world that we've got some talent too."

Recently, the UAE-VA had Jeff Brehaut down from the US for a training clinic for volleyball referees in the region. But Ali Rajab says, that was just one of the many training programmes scheduled in the run up to the tournament. "The FIVB is very strict and pay attention to the most minute details. They will not only come down to inspect the venue, but will also be holding several camps to help everyone related to the tournament — referees, ball boys, sand boys and other essential staff — to get it right for the big event."

Ali Rajab mentioned that the UAE team, when finalised, will gear up for the event by playing a number of friendly games with other regional teams. He informed that since the association did not have a dedicated coach for its beach volleyball team, Abdullah Ali, coach of the indoor team could be taking over. "A camp to select the UAE team will be starting soon and we will have to wait and see what decision the new committee, which is to be instituted on June 9, takes about having a coach dedicated to beach volleyball becuase it is a totally different ball game altogether. We had a coach formerly, but with this tour and the kind of publicity it will bring us, it will be important for us to get someone on a fulltime basis."

Publicity? Well, the country will definitely be banking on the one-visitor-tells-many attitude of the people coming in for the tour. And more tours of this type will definitely bring a smile to the face of one of the top officials at the volleyball association... that of its general secretary, Ali Rajab.

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