DUBAI // For the cricket devotee Jibran Khan, the only searing heat welcome in a match is that felt by his opponents as he steps up to the crease.
So Jibran, 19, was yesterday only too willing to pad up at one of the Dubai Sports World indoor pitches, under a roof that stops the air conditioning from escaping.
“We play cricket mainly in the surroundings [of where we live] but this is a new experience,” said the young Indian, for whom the school year has finished.
“We played at school but this is something completely different. First of all it’s indoors so the rules are different, and also the way the sun beats down outside is not a factor. It’s very difficult to play outside.”
Inside the Dubai World Trade Centre, which is usually reserved for large exhibitions, there are football and cricket pitches, basketball courts and even a skate park, all under 32,000 square metres of roof.
The playing fields, which opened for the season on June 8, will be available until August 31.
Jibran said he expected to play a few tournaments over the summer on the pitch.
The surface is slightly uneven and gives the ball a different bounce, but with the heat factor taken out, play is more than manageable.
“We can’t really expect to play for three hours as the heat is very strong,” Jibran said.
“Here we play a short game of eight overs so it should take about an hour and 15 minutes, and a slightly longer game would take an hour and 40 minutes.”
Ray Tinston, head of Dubai Sports World, said lessons were learnt when the venue opened last year, and some additions had been made.
“This is a nice showcase for other sports and [participants] might try cricket or other sports they never thought they’d try,” Mr Tinston said.
“Last year we had Emiratis who came to play football and then they started to play rugby.”
Ana Rynhoud, from the UK, and her schoolmate Masha Wazny, from Canada, tried beach volleyball for the first time.
“It’s quite like a beach and the sand is so soft. There was no sun so it was a lot cooler than outside,” said Ana, 13.
Masha, also 13, said she would try all of the sports on offer, despite already having a passion for netball and football.
“I love sports,” she said.
The girls agree they would round up their friends whenever time allowed. “It’s so much fun,” Ana said.
To please the toughest demographic – teens – Mr Tinston said they had to make some additions to the venue, including the skate park, which he expects to be a big draw.
“The skate park came from outdoors and now, since it’s indoors, we have had a fantastic response,” he said.
A 660-metre track runs around the three halls, and opens to runners at 8am.
It will be also used by boot camps, which will begin about 6am. Those attending will also use the football pitches and the gym, which is complete with weights.
Entry is free but renting the courts and pitches costs between Dh200 and Dh400 an hour.
Next month former stars from Barcelona FC and Real Madrid will take part in a tournament against other European and Middle East teams for an indoor football match.
Mr Tinston expects 2,500 spectators to turn up over five days. Ticket information will be available next week.