Sheikh Hamdan and Al Nasr Leisureland: Residents share loving memories Filed on March 26, 2021
Belgium's Dries Deplan in action during Tennis Nations Cup Men's Finals at Al Nasr Leisureland in Dubai in 2016. — File photo

Sheikh Hamdan's support to the venues such as the LeisureLand had positively contributed to UAE sport movement

For long-time residents who grew up in Dubai in the 80s and 90s, perfect weekends meant spending a day at Al Nasr Leisureland, especially for sports and entertainment. And the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum was one of the key people behind its growth through the years. He had been the chairman of Al Nasr Club since 1960, and his unequivocal support to the club and venues such as the LeisureLand had positively contributed to UAE sport movement.

Established on October 10, 1979, Al Nasr Leisureland (ANL) was quintessentially the place to spend weekends, celebrate birthday parties, and enjoy various sports activities. A lot of residents, especially from the South Asian community, have fond memories of visiting this indoor sports club as kids and also taking their children to revive memories and make new ones.

“ANL was just a hop, skip and jump from my school, IHS, and I have a lot of fond memories of visiting this place for ice-skating and swimming. At that time, an ice skating rink was available either at ANL or Hyatt Regency. We preferred ANL. And, later, after I became a mother, I often took my sons to this recreational facility. Unlike now when Dubai residents are spoilt for choice, we had fairly limited ones, but I have loved and cherished every moment of that time. I would like to revisit it,” said Shirley Soans, operations manager at Emirates airlines.

Jayant K., another long-time resident of Dubai, has similar memories of visiting Leisureland when growing up. “I used to visit the centre twice a week for ice-skating, which I think was a popular sport at that time. We could be seen either on the ice rink or the pools. This place had become an instant hit and for years we had celebrated some of our special moments here.”

To think that the indoor sports area is a thing of yore and appealed only to older residents would be incorrect. The place underwent gentrification a few years ago and has now regained its popularity. “I went to ANL in 2017 for the first time to attend concert by Purple Range, a Sri Lankan music band. I liked the place and have since frequented it many times. I was at the club just a couple of days back for bowling with a few friends. The food is good, the place has so many other sports facilities, there are discounts for group bookings, ample parking space. What’s there not to like,” said K. K Dhanushan, a senior executive working for Al Tayer Motors.


Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli has been in Dubai long enough to call it her spiritual home. She loves to travel but plans to settle down in Koi Samui, Thailand eventually to spend her sunset years by the sea. For now, she writes frequently on personal finance, retirement planning, business news and features, health and almost anything assigned by her editor. Her sojourns can be followed on instagram (suneetiahujakohli), news and views on Twitter @suneetiahuja, and for the rest, there’s a Facebook account.

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