Global skateboarding elite compete in Dubai on the road to the Olympics

More than 500 of the world's most creative skateboarding athletes head to the UAE for two weeks of competition that could influence this summer’s Games

World Skate Championship 2024
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The World Skate Tour has landed in the UAE for the second consecutive year with back-to-back events happening until March 10.

The adrenaline-filled Street and Park Pro Tour is underway at a new skate park arena built by Arada - a leading real estate company and UAE-based master developer, it is hosting the sporting spectacle with World Skate in partnership with Shamal Holding, owner of Dubai Harbour, in collaboration with Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism.

First heats commenced yesterday (February 25), further underlining the sport’s place in the UAE after Sharjah’s successful hosting of the World Skate Tour in 2023, and Arada’s role in the evolving skating community.

In a limited time, the developer built a world-class venue for the Street Pro Tour Stop, which runs until March 3, followed by the Park Pro Tour Stop, on until March 10.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of DSC, the 2024 Tour events hold unparalleled significance for the world’s greatest male and female skateboarders; not only are they competing for the title of world’s best, each competition will serve as a pivotal qualifier for the Olympic Games, in Paris this summer.

Dr Ray Tinston, Arada’s events director, says spectators will witness exiting and future Olympic medallists in action at its “top-notch” C-Class (Championship Class) Park and Street venues.

“We strive to deliver events that not only showcase the prowess of the UAE but also become a source of pride for the nation,” he tells The National.

“With a live broadcast reaching audiences worldwide, we aim to spotlight the beauty of the destination while emphasising Dubai and the UAE’s prowess in organising world-class events.”

For residents and visitors, this marks a fantastic opportunity to witness some of the best in one of the world’s fastest-growing sports.

Sabatino Aracu, World Skate president, describes the “great sporting city of Dubai” as the perfect backdrop for two weeks of “truly world-class competition”.

“Local fans will have a unique opportunity to see the planet’s top professionals up close,” he says. “As the Road to Paris 2024 draws to a close, these two events provide the last opportunity to secure ranking points to qualify for the Olympics, so we expect competition will be intense.”

As well as the 500-plus elite athletes from various countries, organisers expect more than 3,500 people from outside the UAE representing competitors, their

coaches, families, and organisers from World Skate, as well as international media representatives covering and broadcasting the event globally.

Dr Ray says the competition includes participation from more nations than ever.

“We’ve meticulously crafted a world-class park in one of Dubai’s most exciting destinations and the best men and women skateboarders in the world are here, including medallists from the first Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“It is certain that we will be watching the Paris Olympic medal winners in action and what a privilege to see them live in the UAE while the rest of the world watches online.

“These two events hold a special significance within the World Skateboarding Tour, serving as a defining benchmark for the entire tour.”

Dr Ray’s career has taken him across the world, organising events across various verticals, and landing him in the UAE in 2008.

He says skateboarding and its community “radiate a unique energy and camaraderie”, ranking it among the top three fastest-growing sports globally. “Having rarely witnessed such passion in my career, I am captivated by the athleticism, skill, and electric atmosphere that skateboarding brings…whether witnessed live or through broadcast, the experience is truly mesmerising.”

And this latest fortnight of competition further cements Arada’s growing role in that skating community, having first secured the 2023 World Skate World Championships for Park and Street for its Aljada Skate Park, in Sharjah.

“The resounding feedback from the entire skateboarding community was nothing short of remarkable,” says Dr Ray of that iteration.

“We were told that our hosting efforts not only elevated the sport but also marked those events as the pinnacle of skateboarding history - a monumental compliment from both the community and our esteemed partners, World Skate and their Skateboarding Tour.

“At the Dubai Harbour Skate Park, we have once again set a new standard. What we’ve accomplished transcends the boundaries of the World Skateboarding Tour, propelling the UAE to the forefront of one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet.

“Our commitment to excellence and the relentless pursuit of pushing the limits have solidified our position as a key player in the global skateboarding landscape.”

Arada was founded in 2017 by HH Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of Basma Group, and HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, founding chairman of KBW Investments, with the intention of delivering superior properties to the UAE real estate segment.

It has swiftly become renowned for a commitment to excellence, based on a vision to redefine urban living with vibrant and inclusive communities “offering amenities and facilities that foster social interaction, wellness, and a sense of belonging among residents”.

Arada says it incorporates innovative design concepts and architectural elements into its developments, while being committed to sustainability, implementing green building practices and environmentally-friendly features in its projects, beside quality craftsmanship.

World Skate, meanwhile, serves as the premier authority and youth-orientated international governing body on all aspects of roller sports, including governance, competition, and development.

Formerly known as the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS), it was rebranded in 2017 to reflect its progressive broader focus and remains committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity within roller sports, welcoming athletes of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and abilities to participate and compete.

In embracing innovation and adaptability to keep pace with the evolving landscape of sports and entertainment, World Skate places strong emphasis on youth engagement, recognising the importance of nurturing the next generation of athletes and enthusiasts and maintaining a presence in numerous regions around the world.

Arada’s staging of World Skate’s premium competition fits well with Dubai’s role as a dynamic destination “where the spirit of competition comes alive” and ensures the city takes “centre stage in the grand performance of sports” while delivering a vision for a healthy and inspired country.

So where does Arada’s role in the skate community, a key part of youth culture and a sport driven by creativity, freedom and expression, manifest beyond these events?

Dr Ray says it is “elevating the journey to the podium” as the final destination before the Olympics, but is also a “legacy driver” for the UAE’s fastest growing sport.

“We believe in long-term partnerships and we invest in our communities, not just the built environment but the people who live, work and play there,” he says.

“We have some of the best facilities for skateboarding in the world and our long-term partnership with World Skate is beginning to yield benefits for our communities and the wider UAE. We look forward to a long and healthy partnership with athletes, families, federations, and partners in the skateboarding family.”

He continues: “In this Olympic year, our qualifying events have successfully drawn the participation of the finest athletes in the sport... the eyes of the world will be on us, and we are poised to demonstrate Dubai and the UAE’s capacity to host events of the highest calibre.

“These events have the potential to redefine how the world views a place, its people, and its ability to host events on an unprecedented scale. I firmly believe the standards set at the events in Dubai will mark the inception of a new chapter, not only for the UAE but for the wider GCC.

Updated: February 26, 2024, 6:02 AM