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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Calls for more skateparks in the UAE after Kite Beach success

A survey of Kite Beach park users found that 92 per cent visited a few times every week, with 94 per cent agreeing new skate parks built elsewhere would be equally well used.

A skater enjoys the facilities at XDubai on Kite Beach in Dubai and say the demand for more space to participate in extreme sports needs to be fed. Satish Kumar / The National
A skater enjoys the facilities at XDubai on Kite Beach in Dubai and say the demand for more space to participate in extreme sports needs to be fed. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Six months on from the launch of the XDubai Skatepark at Kite Beach and a groundswell of support for more facilities is building.

The park has become a magnet for skaters from across the UAE and further afield, with Canadian pro skateboarders Chris Haslam and Frenchman Robin Bolian both seen riding the beachside ramps.

Australian park designer Convic has surveyed users, and general manager Julius Turanyik claimed its success could lead to other developments in the UAE.

“We’ve have had a tremendous response from across the country, and region,” he said.

“We’re seeing first-hand the value and benefits this type of public space offers to not just youth, but the community at large.”

Convic is in discussions with other UAE organisations to develop similar action sports parks, not only featuring skateboarding facilities but others appealing to the wider community.

Sites catering for street artists could be created, event and stage spaces made, seating, action play zones, terraces, yoga spaces, BBQ and picnic areas, fountains, and facilities such as basketball courts, table tennis tables or parkour were all possible.

In a survey of Kite Beach park users, Convic found 92 per cent visited a few times every week, with 94 per cent agreeing skate parks built elsewhere in the UAE would be equally well used.

“The appetite is there,” Mr Turanyik added. “As we have seen in Australia, more action sports parks often create more demand as action sport communities grow and expand through these new platforms and facilities.”

Skateboarding is one of five sports to be recommended for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the International Olympic Committee to decide next week. If chosen, skating will join surfing, baseball, sport climbing and karate as new sports in a bid to boost ratings and sponsorship.

Morgan Carlson, 36, who manages XDubai athletes, said the skate park has been a roaring success since launching in January and could help develop Olympians.

“Dubai badly needed something like this for young people,” he said. “A decent skate park was the missing gap for young people as there was already a decent skating community here.

“It hasn’t just attracted the older guys who have always been skating in Dubai but also younger kids using their scooters who are getting into these kind of sports for the first time. It’s pretty cool.

“It’s a world-class facility, as good as anywhere. Since it opened, we’ve had 15 to 20 of the world’s top skaters visiting Dubai to try it out.

“It is helping put Dubai on the map for the sport.”

nwebster@thenational.ae