ABU DHABI// Thousands of amateur athletes gathered in the capital this weekend to represent their employers on the cricket pitch, the basketball court and, of course, the football field.
The Abu Dhabi Corporate Games began yesterday as more than 2,500 people vied for medals in 17 sports, playing for about 70 companies and organisations. It is the first time the event has been held in the UAE.
"It's team-building while also networking," said Benoit Montin, development and operations director for the Corporate Games. "They're proud to represent their teams."
The Corporate Games have been held more than 160 times around the world, including editions this year in Bucharest, Manila and Cape Town.
Teams entered by a business or organisation can include employees, clients, retirees or even relatives and friends. There is no age restriction, and participants include the skilled, serious, casual and fun-seeking.
The Abu Dhabi games, which continue today, brought together old friends Salman Badr and Ahmed Abdulqader, who played basketball in high school in Dubai.
"We used to play together literally 10 years ago," said Mr Badr, competing for Flickershow, a media production company. "Now we're all doing different things. I live in Riyadh and I came specifically for this tournament."
Watching the action on the basketball court made some participants nervous.
"We have a very strong competition," said Nader Lardhi, competing for Al Fahim Group. "We'll try our best."
The company had 25 employees playing basketball, cricket and football, said Maisoon Abuagla, a colleague of Mr Lardhi, who came to cheer on her workmates.
"Our cricket team is doing really well," she said. "They won their game today."
But employees from Boston Consulting Group - resting in the shade after a defeat on the football field - said the games were not really about winning.
"It was more to represent our company, in all honesty," said Faisal Hamady, a consultant. "We've got the minimum number - six of us. That's why we're exhausted and that's why we lost," he joked.
"We scored one goal!" a colleague chimed in.
Jay Patel, another consultant, said: "It was more about joining in and everybody having some fun."
A separate ladies-only competition was held at Zayed University.
A medals ceremony will be held today to award the winning teams.