Sylvester Stallone, the Hollywood actor, once described polo as "trying to play golf during an earthquake" and it would be hard to disagree with that description.
Golf is a serene sport. Galleries are constantly reminded to be quiet, for even a whisper can be a distraction for the players.
Polo, a royal sport by origin, does not afford such niceties.
Four horsemen, on their huffing mounts, armed with long-handled mallets, drive a small, white plastic ball over the 300-yard field with the purpose of hitting it between two poles not very far apart on either end. Of course, four other horsemen from the opposing team will be trying to stop them while attempting to score goals of their own.
The biggest challenge, for a novice observer, seems to be staying in the saddle as riders sprint and steer the ponies through the mini-crowd. You can feel the ground reverberate with the sound of hoofs and the panting can be heard from afar. The clang of mallets is loud and clear, and the sound of crashing puts you in awe.
There is a magnetic masochism about the game, a primeval attraction that is hard to ignore. Little wonder then that it took Ahmed bin Desmal just one game from the sidelines to fall in love.
"I came with my brother to watch a game," said bin Desmal, jogging his memory back 11 years to 2000. "That was the first time I was at a polo match and I got hooked on it.
"Two of my brothers, Abdullah and Tariq, were already playing the game. They pulled me into polo and since then I am enjoying the game."
Bin Desmal's fourth brother, Yusuf, also plays, and the siblings are thankful to Sheikh Falah bin Zayed for providing them with the opportunity. Sheikh Falah is the patron of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, and an ardent supporter of the game. The 300-hectare Ghantoot Club, with eight polo fields, is one of the largest such facilities in the world and testimony to that.
Seven overseas professionals, mostly from Argentina, reside in the premises. Unlike other clubs or tournaments, the professionals at Ghantoot are given annual contracts. They feature in tournaments and the friendly matches, which are usually three times a week, and also help guide the 15 Emirati players.
The club boasts a staff of 300, more than 70 polo ponies and scores of Arabian thoroughbreds. Sheikh Falah has recently gifted around 50 of the latter.
It is a busy time for the breeding department at the club as a couple of Argentine stallions are visiting and Sultan Mohammed, who is in charge of the section, proudly displays the newborns.
"They gain almost a kilo a day," he said, tending to Cardobesa, regarded as one of the best polo ponies, and her foal, Carrie.
These are busy times on the fields as well with the club hosting the season-ending President's Cup, the country's most prestigious polo tournament, where Ahmed bin Desmal's ADCB team will be contesting in the final today.
"We have to give all the credit to Sheikh Falah," said bin Desmal, 25, and an IT student at Abu Dhabi Men's College. "He used to be a friend of my eldest brother [Abdullah], who started playing polo in 1998.
"I am so happy to be involved with the President's Polo Cup. We are definitely lucky. The UAE government is supporting us a lot. Plus His Highness Sheikh Falah bin Zayed is also supporting us in this game to the maximum. He is doing whatever he can to make this game well known in the region. As far as I know, in the UAE specifically, Ghantoot Polo Club is one of the strongest clubs in the region.
"I am a natural athlete, as they say. I played mostly all sports in school and with my friends, and then I just saw what I am good at. I am good at polo, and I have started playing golf, which I enjoy a lot also. These are the only two sports I love.
"It is good to see young people from the UAE play such a rare game. It's always been football or basketball, those kind of sports. But you see new sports coming into the UAE and that makes it much better."
Dubai's al Habtoor dynasty are also keen supporters of the game and spend millions every year on their passion. Mohammed al Habtoor, his brother and sons play, and the family connections continue with the bin Drais and the al Bawardis.
"I really want to support everyone who thinks about playing polo," said bin Desmal. "The al Habtoors, I am so happy to see them playing. With their sons playing now, they are four. So they can form a team. We are also four, so we can form a team as well."
However, both - the Al Habtoors and the bin Desmals - would rather play against each other than on the same side. Ahmed's most memorable moment, in fact, came last year when he played in the final of a tournament against his brother, Abdullah, and scored the winning goal.
"It was last year, at the Emirates Open tournament," he said. "It was a very tough match between me and my brother. There was a bit of rivalry. We faced each other two times in the tournament.
"We lost against them in the first match, but we met again in the final. We won and I scored the last goal in the last 15 seconds."
The al Habtoors, who host the annual Al Habtoor Challenge and organise many other exhibition matches and foreign tours, similarly relish their sibling rivalry.
"When me and Mohammed play against each other, it can get really exciting," said elder brother Rashid. "People really enjoy it. It is a lot of fun and we would like to keep it like this. Once we played against each other in England and the Queen of England was giving me the trophy after the game.
"She asked me if I always play against my brother and she thought it was very funny."
The al Habtoors have an academy at the Dubai Polo Club, where many youngsters are learning the nuances of the game, but "it is not business. It is the enjoyment of playing polo," said Mohammed al Habtoor. "This is a sport in which you get nothing in return. You just spend, play the game and enjoy playing it. It is a game of royals. You don't play to make money out of it. It is a hobby."
One that has been growing steadily through the years.
"Polo is being played here for almost 30 years now, but it has really grown in the last five or six years," said Rashid al Habtoor. "There are four clubs now in the UAE. But let us not forget that polo is an expensive sport. It depends on people and how much money they want to spend on it.
"In a game, each player needs five horses. Sometimes, we use between 40 to 45 horses for a match. So just the value of the horses you use in a match is close to Dh10 million."
The thrills compensate for the costs involved. To Ahmed bin Desmal, the feeling of being one with the horse is indescribable.
"In one word: it is the feeling … the connection [between the horse and the rider]," he said. "It's how you split your mind into two, focus on the game and strategy, and calibrate with the horse."