My UAE: Ali Kaddas, businessman and sport aficionado

A profile of Abu Dhabi resident Ali Kaddas, whom no one could accuse of being a time-waster.

Ali Kaddas with his motorcycle in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
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No one could accuse Ali Kaddas of being a time-waster.

The Abu Dhabi resident runs the Kaddas Group of Companies, which includes commercial printing, graphic design, oilfield and agriculture services and heavy machinery. But Kaddas is also a committee member at The Club, vice-captain of the Exiles Motorcycle Club and a committee member of both the UAE Ice Hockey Federation and the local Abu Dhabi ice hockey league - as well as being both a player and a referee in the sport.

"I like to be busy," says Kaddas. "But not away from my family. It takes a lot of scheduling, I try to make myself like a calendar."

But how did this Emirati father of three come to play a sport more associated with subzero temperatures than the deserts of Abu Dhabi?

"In 1992, I started to go to the ice rink; I was around 16, and it was the only place where it was out of the heat. Then one day, the guard said we had to get off because the rink was booked, so we waited around to see what it was. And these men went on, wearing equipment on their shoulders, on their legs; we had never seen this before! So after the game, I asked one of them, a Canadian named Gary Marshall (he's still a friend of mine), what it was, and he said ice hockey. I wanted to try it, so he said: 'Give me Dh1,000 and I will get you all the equipment'. And I started like that."

His new-found love of the sport led to another love: of ice hockey's home, Canada. "I would say, 90 per cent of my friends since I started hockey are Canadian. And I've been to Canada more than 15 times, I love it."

No matter how many times he visits North America, though, there is only one home for Kaddas. "I love all the emirates, but of course, you will love the city where you are born, and where you had your childhood. And Abu Dhabi is my city, this is where I work and this is where I want to raise my family. It's my life here."

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