Everyone has a natural talent for something. Some of us are good with languages, others are skilled in mental arithmetic, while others find their way into the record books with bizarre exploits, such as eating a plane or smashing toilet seats with their head.
Okay, so the last two might not exactly be the most useful of skills, but if you don’t try things, you might never know how adept you are at them.
Take Emirati teenager Omeir Saeed. Some five years after first chancing his arm at cable wakeboarding, he is now regarded as one of the finest prospects in the sport. He took a punt on a discipline he knew little about but soon realised he had unearthed a hidden talent, one that could make him a genuine star on the sporting stage.
“I didn’t really know what cable wakeboarding was but when I first tried it, I fell in love with it and I just kept on going back,” Saeed tells Time Out of his introduction to the sport.
“A month after I first started, there was the first UAE national championships and I remember that even the day before, I still hadn’t decided whether or not to compete. I just decided to do it for fun, but ended up coming in second place in the junior category. After that, I continued practising hard. The year after that I won in the open men’s division and I just continued from there.”
Saeed is now a familiar face on the wakeboarding circuit, although he believes there would be more UAE athletes on it if they shared his never-give-up attitude. “The most important thing is that you are dedicated,” he says. “When I first started wakeboarding, I did so with a big group of people, but none of them carried on. They got lazy. For example, if they tried a trick and they didn’t get it first time, they gave up.
“Wakeboarding involves a lot of practise on and off the water. You need to be really committed to it and not give up easily.”
The 18-year-old’s determination to succeed is what immediately strikes you about him. Despite having to combine his passion with his studies at the American University of Sharjah, Saeed is determined to turn pro once he graduates.
Saeed is thankful for the support he has received from the university (although, he jokes his fellow students “think I’m on sick leave” when he’s competing). However, it’s the backing he has received from his sponsors, Red Bull, that has given him the chance to experience what life is like on a global pro tour.
“When I first got sponsored by Red Bull they really supported me, allowed me to compete abroad in competitions and really pushed me to get to where I am,” he says.
“Previously, I only travelled with my family, so wakeboarding opened new doors and allowed me travel on my own and see different countries. It’s really fun to travel the world with these guys and experience new cultures and environments,” he says.
Having spent time training with the world’s top exponents of the sport in the US, Saeed has learned invaluable lessons about what it takes to reach the top.
For someone so young, who in relative terms took up the sport quite late, his progress has been phenomenal.
In 2013, he was crowned amateur champion at the WWA Wake Park World Championships, making full use of it being held on his home waters at Al Forsan Cable Park in Abu Dhabi.
He triumphed again the following year, again at Al Forsan, becoming the amateur Wakeskate champion. However, he showed signs of becoming a fully fledged tour member by also making the finals of the professional men’s competition, the first time a UAE rider has done so.
So what of his bright future? The level-headed yet driven teenager is in no way getting carried away with his success. “I’ll see where it takes me. Last year, I competed in the World Series and missed two of the stops, but still came fourth overall, which is really good,” he says. “Hopefully this year I’ll be able to do all the stops and maybe make it into the top three.”
Inherently humble but incredibly talented, Saeed has all the tools to make it to the top of his sport. Just don’t expect him to crow about it if he does...
Where to wakeboard
Karim Aly and Ahmed el Shoky got together to found this school three years ago and haven’t looked back since. Their plan is to grow participation in watersports, including wakeboarding.
Dhs450 per boat, per hour. Ghantoot Marina, www.xtremewakeuae.com.
Saeed’s home waters
The first cable park in the Middle East, which is where Omeir Saeed first learned the ropes. Has both right and left-foot start courses that can accommodate multiple riders.
From Dhs125 per hour. Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, www.alforsan.com.
With a base in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the trio of Michel Peltier, Willy Mulet and Roel van de Ven are on a mission to take their pupils’ skills to the next level.
From Dhs100 per hour. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, www.wake-evolution.com.