On a reader’s tip, we get into Dubai’s heady darts scene... 2 Comments
On screen, a dangerously overweight man in a Hawaiian shirt is pretending to be an aeroplane. This is his victory lap. We can only presume he’s hit a double-bull, the red spot at the centre of the dartboard, or a triple-20. I’m not entirely sure what this means yet, but judging from the devastated expression on the equally bloated and beery face of his adversary, it’s safe to say he’s top of his game right now.
Darts isn’t high on the list of the world’s sexiest sports. There are (let’s be honest here) no real celebrity darts players. It’s a game that most people reserve for pub Olympics and, in the UK, a world often associated with sizeable guts, polo shirts and disastrous facial hair.
Yet I’m keen to find out what Dubai’s darts scene has to offer. Following a reader’s letter we received a few weeks ago enquiring about tournaments taking place in the city in the new year, I called up a representative of the Dubai Darts League, whose bounding enthusiasm was so infectious that we decided to give it a whirl ourselves.
On his advice, I got in touch with Ibrahim Abdul Karim, the man alleged to have sold the first dartboards in the UAE. With this feat under his belt, Ibrahim is the de facto captain of the darts team he takes us to meet in Bur Dubai. In ‘training’ for the start of the new league, which kicks off on January 10, Karim’s crew of 10 is made up entirely of UAE nationals who, I’m told, meet to brush up on their feather-throwing several times a week.
As befits the very social slant of darts, I’m instantly welcomed and treated to a display of several highly competitive games between members of the team. ‘Darts has been huge here for almost 30 years,’ says Ibrahim, holding his feathers in one hand and a mug of black tea in the other. ‘It was big business in the ’80s. We’ve hosted world tournaments here for police officers – around 30 US players came over here for that a few years ago. And every week there would be tournaments up at the Jebel Ali Hotel.’
These days the league is operated at Al Nasr Leisureland and has an impressive roster of 140 players from Dubai’s various communities. Ibrahim insists that the social draw of the sport is what keeps people coming back and it’s easy to get on a team even as a solo player. He’s also insistent of the popularity of the sport among locals, explaining that one of Dubai’s sheikhs heads up a team in the league.
After watching a few games, I’m keen to give it a bash. Instantly Ibrahim notes my slightly off-kilter forearm stance. ‘Don’t try to go for numbers at first; just warm up with bullseyes until you feel comfortable.’ A few hapless flings later and Ibrahim steps in with pointers. But I don’t get much chance to put his tips to the test, as another game kicks off on this hotly contested board and I’m politely booted off.
But while darts may still be darts, the immediate appeal of getting into the league here remains its social side. In contrast to the perceived exclusivity of a number of Dubai’s sports leagues, this is very much an open, inclusive game with a good mix of nationalities involved. So, after a few more games of ‘Mickey Mouse’ (players have to eliminate each of the high numbers on the board in triplicate, designed for training purposes only, I’m told), I head out, content with the memory of having been taught to play darts by a man in a dishdasha.
Time Out Dubai,
- Martial arts(13)
- Rugby & Gaelic(13)
- Academic City(2)
- Al Barsha(1)
- Al Quoz(22)
- Arabian Ranches(4)
- Bur Dubai(9)
- Business Bay(3)
- Discovery Gardens(1)
- Downtown Dubai(8)
- Dubai Investments Park(2)
- Dubai Marina(47)
- Dubai Media City(1)
- Emirates Hills(10)
- Festival City(5)
- International City(5)
- Jebel Ali(14)
- Jumeirah Lakes Towers(4)
- Motor City(1)
- Nad Al Sheba(6)
- Oud Metha(20)
- Palm Jumeirah(11)
- Sheikh Zayed Road(23)
- The Gardens(2)
- Umm Suqeim(9)
Our favourite features
The 50 best things to do in Dubai The emirate's best toilet, burger, elevator, proposal spot and more
Dubai's dining districts The battle of Dubai's best foodie neighbourhoods
Best nightclubs in Dubai The best nightclubs in Dubai revealed. Where do you like to party?
In pictures: The 40 biggest gigs of the year Take a look back at the most memorable UAE concerts from the 2013/14 season
Your essential guide to Dubai Marina Food, drink, play and live in Dubai Marina
Why you should visit Old Dubai Insider's guide to the traditional heart of the city
Dubai's best cafés revealed Top spots which offer books, board games, shisha and more
Dubai's best buffets Loosen the belt and pile up your plate at these all-you-can eat packages
The UAE’s best swim-up bars Refresh your body and your thirst at these poolside spots
86 Friday brunches to try Time for brunch? We run through the options - in price order
Dubai's must-visit mini malls Bigger doesn't always mean better...
How to... 24 must-have Dubai skills From lighting a barbecue to getting a driving licence
...and RELAX: 25 must-try spa treatments From ocean-view treatment rooms at the Burj Al Arab to faultless facials...
Must-see Dubai sights Nine iconic attractions no tourist or resident should miss
Dubai's best breakfasts Brilliant breakfast dishes from around the world available in Dubai