DUBAI // Just when the temperatures had started to scale down, the beachfront of Dubai will be sizzling from next week. Making a stopover for the first time in the Gulf, the Swatch FIVB World Tour players will descend on Dubai next week for the $350,000 (Dh1.5million) beach volleyball Dubai Open. The biggest attraction will be the new US pairing of Kerri Walsh and Nicole Branagh, who will be making their first appearance together after competing in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games with different partners.
Walsh and her former partner, Misty May-Treanor are the defending Olympic champions and have been undefeated and together since the 2004 Athens Olympics. Treanor will be missing the event as she is concentrating on her appearances on ABC's famous program, "Dancing With Stars" After winning 35 gold medals with May-Treanor, including her last 10 international Beach Volleyball starts, including a gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Walsh will now team up with her former American rival Branagh as the UAE hosts an international leg for the first-time with a double gender event starting Monday at Jumeirah Beach Park.
The qualification tournaments are scheduled for Tuesday and the main draws beginon Oct 8. The semi-finals take place on Oct 10 and the medal matches will be held on Oct 11. The winning teams will share the $28,000 first-place prizes. "I am really very excited to get the chance to play with Nicole," said Walsh. "Nicole is an amazing athlete, a wonderful girl and I respect her game very much." Branagh also competed at the Beijing Olympics for the United States with Elaine Youngs, who announced that she plans on playing a limited international schedule in the coming years. Branagh and Youngs were placed fifth.