x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Bungee’s jump-start as an official sport in Dubai

Event organisers hope the weekend's bungee jumping competition at Powerplay Sports will pique interest in the sport and pave the way for setting up a governing body for regional bungee jumpers.

DUBAI // As sports go, jumping from a platform 50-foot in the air while attached to a rubber cord is not the most user-friendly, but that won’t deter officials from a sports council from its bid to set up a UAE bungee federation.

About 50 thrill seekers are expected to compete in a bungee competition at Powerplay Sports on Sheikh Zayed Road at the weekend to raise money for Breast Cancer Arabia.

It’s hoped that interest in the event and the sport will help set up a governing body for bungee jumping in the region, putting it on the competitive extreme sports map.

“DSC [Dubai Sports Council] encourages the development of all sports in Dubai and bungee jumping is one of them,” said Hessa Al Kous, sport events planning manager at the council.

“We hope to one day encourage more events in this sport and drive additional adventure-like sports.

“We like to give the greater community a variety of options to come out and become socially active.”

Ms Al Kous said the emirate was already well-known for international sporting events such as the Dubai World Cup, Rugby 7s and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship as well for adventure sports such as Skydive Dubai. “Dubai has become a hub for different sports, and adding bungee jumping to Dubai’s sporting calendar is only natural to the development of alternative sports.

“His Highness Sheikh Hamdan [Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of DSC] is an avid extreme- sports enthusiast, and with the interests of the new generation Dubai will definitely benefit by adding more events like bungee jumping in the near future.”

The competition will begin at 2pm on Friday, with participants going through three rounds of judging while being scored on everything from free-fall style to bravery.

“The aim is also to highlight bungee jumping as a potential competitive sport and put it on the Dubai sports calendar, something which would be a first for the region,” said Ramez Shawki, managing director of Gravity Zone, the country’s only dedicated bungee facility.

“While the competition is meant as a fun and social event for any adrenalin junkies to enter, it is also a hopeful first step towards the potential establishment of a UAE bungee federation.”

He said there was no shortage of thrill seekers in the UAE willing to give the sport a try.

“Bungee jumping is an excellent challenge and a must-do for adrenalin-rush seekers. Alongside the many great cultural things visitors can experience, Dubai is also a destination for trying your hand at adventure sports.”

Kieve Pinto has bungee jumped in places such as Malaysia, Macau and Switzerland and is competing as an individual and in a team of three on Friday.

“I’m very excited to jump, it’s such an adrenalin rush, I love it. It’s fantastic to have this in the UAE,” said the 28-year-old Indian engineer. “There’s a lot of enthusiasts like myself and it’s excellent that the UAE is promoting these types of events as I know a lot of people who will take part in this.

“It’s great that bungee will get this exposure and it puts the UAE on the map along with things like Skydive Dubai.”

For more information visit www.gravityzone.co. Registrations close on May 8.

mswan@thenational.ae