Ever wonder what people in Dubai, or the Emirates have to say about Liverpool's recent successes, about English football and about the successful teams of today? No? I'll tell you anyway!
I generally get a ‘Fak Liverpool, Manchaster Unayted AY AY AY’
OK, not really, Living in Dubai or any of the seven emirates for that matter (Yes people... An emirate is the same as a state or city and no my title has nothing to do with Arsenal) sheds light on people from many different countries from all over the world. You wouldn’t need to travel to Iran to find out the opinion of an Iranian sports fan, or India to know what an Indian thinks about English football. If you walk over to places like ‘Karama’ you’ll find shops named ‘Liverpool’, or even ‘A C Milan’ – which by the way, is the best place for duplicate & maybe original cheap football jerseys, not that I would know. I always buy the original stuff from Adidas, REALLY!
One of the famous hang out spots to watch games in the United Arab Emirates is Time Cafe. It’s interesting to see the clash of different cultures supporting a similar team. The atmosphere isn’t very different from actually being in the stands. My favourite memory at the sports bar is when Liverpool beat Manchester United. All the Liverpool fans in one corner and the Man Utd fans in another corner... Once side yelling when Ronaldo gets the ball, the other side echoing with boo’s. Again, once side yelling their lungs off when Torres gets the ball, and the other side groaning. At the end of the game the load of drunk Liverpool fans got together and sang ‘Ste Gerrard at what would be the direction of the United supporters, although it ended up sounding more like ‘Shte Gherrahd Gherrahd na na na nah!’ Everyone was too drunk to notice.
Another memory that stays firm in my head is the recent Champions League match in which Liverpool lost to Chelsea. An African woman, slightly on the larger side got up and started dancing at Chelsea’s third goal. On returning back to her seat she tripped and fell over. I’d have loved to scream ‘Karma’ at her face, but I was afraid her reply would be ‘Look at the screen, honey.’ Which was something I wasn’t ready to do at that point in the match. Half way through the game, there was a power cut, and instead of grumbling, everyone in the bar started singing what’s known as ‘The Ole Song’ over here...
Now, lets talk about the fans. I haven’t been for many games because.. Well no one comes here! But I’ve seen A C Milan play twice and Brazil once. My parents, before I was born, were lucky enough to see Liverpool, with legends like John Barnes and Ian Rush. That’s something they just will not stop rubbing in my face!
The UAE vs AC Milan game was very intriguing to me. May Ali, a 20 year old local speaks about it saying ‘the football fans here all seem dedicated and have a very unique way of expressing...joy’.
In U.A.E the common way at a football match to express joy, is to sing ‘Ole Ole Ole’ , hit empty bottles at each other and hitch up your kandoora’s (Look up Arab traditional clothing , very similar to a long white plain robe’ .
I’m not saying Emirati’s (The word for locals) are very dense, I won’t deny accusing them of being slow though and I have a valid reason for it. See, the night of the game versus U.A.E, Milan scored the first goal. No one noticed, a few minutes (two to be precise), the crowd woke up, and started clapping, howling and yelling. Some people (namely me) were standing there looking confused! This happened for the second goal too! But that does not take a way the fact that people over here are football fanatics , and it’s a fun life when football’s on !
You would think that a country like the United Arab Emirates would lack the sea of Red supporters seen in many other places. Maybe you would like to check out the website DubaiReds , then. An official Liverpool Supporters club, it was started in 2006!
The reasons listed on the website for the creation of this ‘Club’ is :
- To create a group of like-minded supporters who are passionate about Liverpool Football Club, irrespective of their background or nationality.
- To make watching televised Liverpool matches an ‘event’ to be enjoyed with fellow supporters.
- To act as a non-profit making organization with the primary aim of using all funds to reinvest in making the Club bigger and better.
The Underground, the main hang out for Liverpool fans, will tell a story of the Supporters that this country holds! People stick together when it comes to football, even in countries in the Middle East. Our war’s involve no religion , or race... but more of football! How much easier would life be if everything was decided through football!
To many of us, Anfield, Old Trafford or even Stamford Bridge is a far away dream... To get there, see what each ones heroes do best is almost a dying wish. It’s where we belong... but has to fight a long hard way to get there. So we build our own Anfield, our own Old Trafford right here, in the heart of the United Arab Emirates... Be it at ‘A C Milan- The sports Store’, Time Cafe or The Underground, we’ll make things work the way we want it to!
Over the next few months, I’ll be speaking to football fans from all over the world living in the United Arab Emirates, discussing strategy, players, coaches and the locals! Trust me, the U.A.E is not only one of the most interesting places, the people here are very entertaining too.. be prepared for a good laugh!
Yalla zain, Salaam!