5 UAE-based bodybuilders to watch out for

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Ryan Villapando, from the Philippines, has seen the popularity of bodybuilding rise as awareness rises about fitness, with increased access to gyms and trainers. He started lifting weights when he was 17 years old. "I was one of those skinny guys in high school who always got bullied by bigger guys, so I decided to improve myself by stepping into the gym and working out – it became my second home," he says. Villapando is now "obsessed with fitness" and "still finding ways to improve my health and physique".

Mohamed Reza Derakhshan, from Iran, entered the physique category for his first competition in Dubai at the Universal Muscle Fitness and Fashion Show in May. He bodybuilds to be healthy and stay in shape.

Angad Maini, from India, is a personal trainer who lives in Dubai. He has been bodybuilding for two-and-a-half years. His first competition was earlier this month. He has seen the sport growing in the UAE during the last few years, he says, because of the increase in availability of gyms, better trainers and the desire to look attractive.

Banto dos Santos, from Brazil, moved to Dubai three months ago, and is a capoeira instructor. In his first competition, he won second place in the physique category. He felt that his background in capoeira would make him a strong competitor.

Murad Abdullaev, from Kurdistan, used to be a wrestler before switching to bodybuilding when he moved to Dubai. He attributes the popularity of the sport in the UAE to the ease of access to gyms.

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