Home > UAE > Opinion: What is wrong with UAE?

Opinion: What is wrong with UAE?

Recently, there have been many articles about Dubai losing all its cricket grounds because the city government thought they would remove them and build multiplezes or something like that over there instead. A classic case of a problem that you have when the playing population is all a minority that is not even represented in the local governments……..

But I keep on asking the same question…… what the hell is the problem with UAE cricket?? What exactly is the reason why they are so weak? Think about this……. they have 50% of their population as South Asian….. thats about 2 million people…… they have a huge huge number of cricket players……. they have nearly as unlimited a funding as it can get….. they have the best facilities, perhaps even better than Zimbabwe……. they have South Asian kids going to South Asian schools so there is no question of losing interest……. they have Cricket in TV all the time, and even have 1 sports channel i.e. Ten Sports that shows global cricket on tv……….. They also have commercial companies hiring the players and paying them to play cricket, like Emirates, Air India etc….. there IS a lot of passion for the game, even if it is focussed on either India or Pakistan, but at least the passion is there, and the kids also want to rise to the heights of their cricket stars…….

What is their exact problem….. it seems that even if some of the European countries had 1 of all the things UAE has going for it, the European country would make it to test level in 5 years, but UAE cant even stand tall against Kenya, Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands…… Why are their matchwinners still expats instead of born and bred players??

Somone needs to help me with some suggestions on this, because I am totally confused about UAE…….

Categories: UAE
  1. rego
    September 23, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    Very interesting analysis and one that puzzles me just as much.

    “UAE cant even stand tall against Kenya, Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands…… ”

    What I’m sure of is that if countries like Kenya, Scotland, Ireland, and even Zimbabwe A or whatever came to UAE to play, they would have an extremely tough time. UAE has been having problems at all the big tournaments because they have been played in Scotland, Ireland, Canada or Namibia over the last 4 years. This said, they are obviously behind Scotland and Ireland, and the major reason for that is simply because locals are not playing the sport. The UAE have reached a sort of ceiling level that they will not break unless they get the government and the locals involved.

  2. September 24, 2006 at 12:06 am


    I think the question i am trying to ask is…… what is missing from UAE cricket right now that will be brought in if the locals start playing the game?

  3. rego
    September 24, 2006 at 12:55 am

    pretty obvious isnt it..government support…you wouldnt have situations that Dubai Cricket Council just endured…better facilities…more depth and quality in the national sides..the point I was trying to make is that UAE is a decent side as it is, and with the exposure that Scotland, and Ireland get, they would be as good or better.

  4. September 24, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    The biggest problem is clearly that since the population is expatriate, kids do not really stay on in the country after finishing high school.. They all leave either back home to India, Pakistan etc. or head west to complete their higher education….

    Secondly, I do not believe that they need locals to succeed – as locals are a minority in their own country..

  5. September 25, 2006 at 1:49 am

    Ankur…… ALL kids dont leave after high school do they? even if they do it would be for a short period of time, after which they would be coming back to the UAE to work……. its not that UAE does not have ANY born and bred south asian adults in there…………

    Lets assume that what you are saying is true, does it explain why UAE is so weak at the age level competitions? even at asia level?

  6. Nishadh Rego
    September 25, 2006 at 3:10 am

    In my opinion, the Asian age level competitions are probably the best in the world along with Europe. UAE are by no means weak. Its just that Nepal and Malaysia have the best junior cricket programs in the world right now. In the last U-19 Asian championships, UAE lost in the quarters to Malaysia by 12 runs. They were arguably the third or fourth best team in the tournament. They reached the finals of the U-15 Elite Championships this year. In 2004 at the U-17 championships in Bangalore, they were arguably even better than Nepal. They had Sri Lanka 32-6 in a second round match.

    That said, UAE could get even better if the locals start taking part in the sport.

    Ankur..most of the UAE guys that I know have stayed back in UAE and have continued to play there. Ofcourse, this is a problem, however looking beyond expats is the real issue here for UAE

  7. September 25, 2006 at 4:41 am

    Rego…… I do not think thtat UAE is better than Ned, Sco or Ireland even IN UAE……. There is of course, no way to prove that, except wait till Scotland and Ireland tour the UAE for their intercontinental cup tie…….. but from memory, Scotland did beat UAE in UAE in 2004 6 nations cup…..

    I think there is an aura of non seriousness when the cricket officials in the emrates look at patronizing the game……. this would probably change when locals start playing the game, because then it would become a national sport rather than an immigrant sport……..

    Ankur, I always ask the question, if Arabs are the minority in UAE, then why is football 20 times bigger than cricket over there? The only difference I see between football and cricket patronization in UAE is that one is played by the locals (not so much by south asians) while the other is played by South Asians……….

    Finally…… I have a feeling that Arabs dont want to play cricket…… I do not buy the argument that in 22 years since Sharjah cup started, they were unable to get into the game…… look at Malaysia, at least they had some junior development going on and brought in those kids to watch the games…… UAE has never done that, infact, I am not sure if there are any locals even in junior leagues………. the schools that play cricket are all south asian ones, hardly, if any are arabic speaking ones……. It is not possible to avoid getting into the game in such a long time unless they specifically dont want to play the game…… it may not be something they like, or it may be something they consider to be against their identity…… Sultan Zarwani was arab, so are Abdur Rehman Bukhatir and so was Saeed Al Saffar……. but still no following of the game amongst the Arab population over there………

    but the question is, what is the future of UAE cricket if the locals specifically dont want to play, and the team cannot improve beyond a certain point without locals playing??

  8. Nishadh Rego
    September 25, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    I dont think that Arabs specifically do not WANT to play. There have to be SOME people in the country who might be interested in representing their country in sport. There might be a bit of a bias against the sport from the Arab population, however I’m sure Arabs would take up the sport if the money, government support, and fame rolled in. You’re completely right that aura of “non-seriousness” amongst the UAE cricket board because they are not citizens of the country. That is probably a big problem with many players and officials enjoying the free ride of tournaments, money, and comforts without feeling the necessary obligation towards the country. Then again shouldnt that be happening in Canada and the USA as well? Is it happening?

  9. September 26, 2006 at 12:39 am

    Rego, you know of any arabs who are playing cricket in UAE in any league?

    Canada is about as serious as UAE i think……. USA is much much less……. but given Canada’s amateur set up, and UAE’s professional set up, there should be a difference of seriousness……..

  10. Nishadh Rego
    September 26, 2006 at 7:18 am

    What I meant was…shouldnt this feeling be present in Canada, and USA. Yet we see that CAnada qualifying for the World Cup twice in a row, USA qualifying for the U-19 World Cup and putting on an impressive show at the Americas Championships. Canada especially dont seem to have the same problem as UAE even though they are an expat based side.

  11. Aslam
    November 5, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    UAE does have a huge Indian, Pakistani & Sri lankan population which would suggest that they definitely ought to be doing well at cricket. Cricket is widely an expat sport in the UAE as everyone is already aware. Then why isn’t UAE doing well at international levels? a very valid question, I would like to highlight a few points that answer the question.

    1)UAE has cricketers that move from the subcontinent all the time. So there is no shortage of exceptional cricketers. But the problem UAE faces is the fact that a person qualifies to represent the country only and only after completing 7 whole years in the country. Of the 14 members in the squad 11 of them have to have completed 7 years or more in the country and the remaining 3 have to have completed a minumum of 4 years.
    2)When quality cricketers move to the UAE in search of better opportunites (work-wise & not cricket related)they are in their prime, aged between 23-28. by the time they qualify to represent the country they are well over 30. Although they bring in the experience with them, playing for 7 seven years just to qualify and extending beyond 30 years they arent exactly at their peak.
    3)They play competitive cricket back at home and when they play in the UAE, obviously it is a notch or two below their competitive level. this may not sound like much of a factor but over a period of 7 years it does affect the quality and level of cricket a cricketer plays.
    4)There arent many locals taking up the sport, this is a major issue. The expats keep coming and going but the locals are the ones that are here to stay. They need to be picking up the sport for the country to do well. Recent initiatives have been set up, which is pleasing to hear.
    5)The UAE does not offer citizenship to expatriates that reside in the country after a few years, unlike the States or Canada for instance. All the expats need to have some sort of a visa to stay in the country. This is where the Employers come in. These cricketers get employed, but not necessarily on cricket basis. Working from 9-6 and then trying to devote time for cricket after is not always easy on the body, considering the fact that they have to report to work the next day. Cricket is not professional in the UAE. it is very much amateur and for those with the passion for the game. there still are many who have families to in the UAE. it just take too much to be working all day, go to practice sessions in the evening and manage a family too. Many good cricketers opt out because of these commitments.
    6)These cricketers like all employess have limited leave (30 odd days. let’s even say that all these are used up for cricket (which is not always the case)the international cricket schedule for UAE itself extends well beyond 50 days a year at a bare minimum. so not every one is available to represent the country because of the leave factor. Since again cricket is not professional, most employers are not in a position to empathize with them.
    7)Most of the organisations that recruit for cricket play a B Division level which is on concrete. after a cricketer plays 7 long years on concrete and then becomes eligible to play for the country, is he really fit for international cricket? I think you all know the answer to that.
    8)Cricket is pretty much good at school levels and university levels but a portion of students that play cricket do tend to move to the States, Australia, Canada, U.K, etc for education. this again is an obstacle towards the development of the sport in the country.

    These are just a few pointers which may help explain why cricket in the UAE has not reached a level people thought it should have. I hope I have helped you understand the situation at hand in the Emirates.

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