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Thread: IIHF Article on hockey in the Middle East

  1. #1
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario

    IIHF Article on hockey in the Middle East

    Talks about UAE plans for the future, including planned construction of two new rinks in Abu Dhabi and the possible addition of a sixth team in their national league.
    Also makes mention of the growth of the game in the region, including the international debuts of the national teams of Bahrain (AWG2011), Saudi Arabia and Oman (Gulf Cup 2010), and the first national championship of Qatar this past season.

    Pretty good article by Martin Merk, though I wish there was a bit more detail (maybe some of our members from some of the Arab nations could return and give us a little more information on what`s happening in their country)

  2. #2
    IHF Member Conesy's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Currently Moscow, Russia
    It's quite surprising (in the good way) to see how rapidly the Middle East hockey teams have been coming along. If their current trajectory continues, then who knows, maybe some countries will make their D1 to Elite level debuts.
    Twitter: @CSmeeth

  3. #3
    IHF Staff Jazz's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
    Southern Canada
    ...The United Arab Emirates currently list 532 ice hockey players, including 40 female players. Four years ago there were only 195 players registered in the country. But the growth also brings problems with the existing infrastructure for ice sports.

    “The United Arab Emirates are an ideal example of the possibilities you have when there are resources and, more importantly, people with enthusiasm and vision,” Tiikkaja said. “Three years ago the focus was around the senior national team, and junior programs were virtually non-existent. This strategy has changed and it has had a remarkable impact with the demand exceeding the supply.”

    For the players, teams and hockey schools that face problems getting ice time at the rinks there’s hope for change. The National reported recently that the government is set to sanction the construction of two new ice rinks in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, to help satisfy growing interest in ice hockey and underline the national team’s ambitions to climb up the ladder in the IIHF World Championship program.

    “We have been talking to the government about building two rinks at Zayed Sports City where the present one stands,” Mohamed Aref, the country’s ice hockey technical director, told the newspaper....
    Any update on the planning of these 2 rinks?

  4. #4
    IHF Prospect
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    Aug 2011
    Dallas, TX
    I'm here now, and playing at the AD rink as well as in the EHL and local league. ALL things come slow here, but the word is that they will be build sometime next year. The BIG concern by players is that they seem to want to tear down the old rink before the others are complete, which would leave NO ice in AD at ALL!!

    Hopefully this isn't the case.

    They also must put an emphasis on creating more opportunities for locals of all ages to skate with expats during the week and over the off season. i.e. pick up or drop in hockey and summer leagues and camps throughout.

    All in all, it's a young sport for the area, made even younger by how young the countries development is.
    They are moving in the right direction and doing a good job though. With expat help and local growing passion for the game, it won't take long though.

  5. #5
    IHF Member Dompa's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Wonder how IIHF plans to expand to middle east and other regions (South America) and insist on higher minimal conditions for competing in IIHF WC....
    Games from Croatia live at :

  6. #6
    IHF Member
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    Nov 2008
    The plans are to focus on regional competitions, such as the very successful Challenge Cup of Asia. There is an attempt to do something similar in The Balkans which hopefully will prove successful. Attempts to bring new hockey playing nations into the IHWC have so far been largely a failure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dompa View Post
    Wonder how IIHF plans to expand to middle east and other regions (South America) and insist on higher minimal conditions for competing in IIHF WC....

  7. #7
    IHF Staff Jazz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Southern Canada

    United Arab Emirates

    More stories from the past few months about hockey's development in the UAE. The 2nd article compares the sports development in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

    Hot sport of ice hockey is cool with Abu Dhabi kids July, 2011

    UAE can be the one to skate the way forward Nov 2011

    ...[Matti Fagerstrom] doubted other countries in the region can match UAE's development strategy, which is based on the recommendations of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). "I know the national team of Kuwait has the potential to improve, but I am not too sure if they have the same kind of backing the UAE enjoy," said the Finn, who travelled to Kuwait as the UAE coach for the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in April. "I am not sure of their junior programme, but they have a strong senior national team. They have got the infrastructure, an Olympic-size rink and a smaller area for skating. So, if they want to develop and popularise the sport, they can.

    "I have been to Qatar but there the game is more of an expatriate sport. I travelled with the UAE Under 18 team and their [Qatar's] juniors were under prepared. They were beginners and lacked proper preparation. "Qatar have also got a problem because their rink is in a mall and the demand for it doesn't provide the ice time for hockey."

    Fagerstrom said the Capital Cup, currently underway, was another chance to create awareness and enhance the popularity of the sport. "More competition means more playing opportunities," he said. "This competition is different to the league and you get to play some unknown teams as well. The format also allows the weaker teams an opportunity to win."..
    When grass roots of ice hockey need cultivating, UAE expats step up Jan 2012

    ...[New York native] is enthusiastic about the future of the sport here. "The EHL is much better than most people would perceive it to be, particularly those from North America and Canada," he said. "The local players are much better than I thought, and for a young league it is pretty well organized. I have seen the evolution, not only the organisation but the level of play. It's got better each year, both in the organization and the strength of the players."

    Emore insists it is healthy for Emiratis to play against expatriates in the league because they can learn the intricacies of the game from them. "And for the expatriate players with a decent background of playing at competitive levels [the standard] is high enough to play seriously because the competitions are more organized and teams are competitive and want to win," he said. "That's a good thing in developing strong players."

    Emore also says it is important that UAE ice hockey does not run before it can walk.

    "The trend here is to achieve everything quickly, which you can't in hockey," he said. "There are no substitutes for practice, dedication and hard work to succeed in hockey, as in everything else. "I am amazed by the progress the UAE has made in the development of a women's national team. To have the first national women's team in the Middle East is remarkable. It shows how evolutionary and forward thinking the country is. "It's a real good thing to be a part of it."

    He said he was pleased to see steps were already being taken to get children involved in the sport at a younger age. And he said that the foundations had been laid in Abu Dhabi to encourage the development of Emirati players. "The coaches here make them comfortable, which is the right thing to do when you start on a new sport," he said. "Showing good results at international level has an impact on the country's youth. There has been good financial backing and youth programmes to develop hockey. It is definitely going in the right direction."....
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