DUBAI // The emirate's first ultimate beach frisbee tournament got off to a flying start yesterday.
More than 70 players, including one who had flown in especially from Finland, took part in the event on the public beach near Le Royal Meridien hotel at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).
As beachgoers and passers-by looked on, players dived about catching frisbees on the sand.
"I found out about this on the internet and decided it would be good to come to Dubai as a holiday and to play," said Miikka Keski-Santti, 22, from Finland.
Mr Keski-Santti has been playing the sport for three years, but found conditions warmer than he was used to. "In Finland we play in snow and it's minus 10°C, so playing on the beach in this heat is pretty tough," he said.
People of all levels of experience took part. "It's a lot of fun but you need to be in shape. If you're not you soon will be," said Samar Sidani, 24, a graphic designer from Lebanon.
"I've only played a couple of times and it's really enjoyable."
Ms Sidani, got involved after going to the weekly "pick-up" games at JBR on Saturday afternoons.
"It's hard work keeping up with the players chasing the frisbee, especially on the sand, but it's really enjoyable," she said.
Ultimate Frisbee was invented in 1968at a high school in the United States and is popular in North America, Europe and Australia. Although there is a league competition in Dubai it is on a much smaller scale.
Yesterday's tournament was organised by the Dubai Ultimate Players Association (DubaiUPA) and players were split into six teams of five with a mix of abilities and experience.
Games lasting 15 minutes were played on two 75-metre by 25-metre pitches. To start a match the two teams line up at the edge of opposing "endzones", with one side throwing the frisbee.
Points are scored when a player catches a frisbee in their opponents' end zone, similar to American football.
"When a player catches a frisbee they cannot run, only pivot, and must release the frisbee within 10 seconds," said Patrick Fourcampre-Maye, a British expatriate who co-founded DubaiUPA and helped organise the event.
Organisers said the event was so successful that they had to turn people away. There are plans to make the event quarterly.
A 15-strong UAE squad is to take part in the World championships in Italy in August.