Ghazi Ghrairi, centre, wants his Emirate team to play with "absolute freedom" tonight.
Ghazi Ghrairi, centre, wants his Emirate team to play with "absolute freedom" tonight.

Emirate have nothing to lose: Ghrairi

DUBAI // Tonight's season-opening Super Cup match against Emirate is the first competitive game for Laszlo Boloni, the new coach of Al Wahda, the Pro League champions. But the former Romanian international decided to give the pre-match press conference a miss, sending Joaquin, his assistant, instead.

And Boloni will be hoping that his team will do the talking for him on the pitch tonight, as will Ghazi Ghrairi, Emirate's Tunisian coach. Ghrairi's team are the President's Cup holders and will be competing in the Asian Champions League (ACL) this season even though they will be playing in the second tier of UAE domestic football after being relegated from the Pro League in May. "If the general impression is that Al Wahda have better players than us, it is good for me and our team," Ghrairi said. "But the real level of the two sides will be known only on the field. In football, just one fact counts and that is the performance on the field.

"We do respect Wahda and they have distinguished players, but we have respectable players too, who are capable of competing for the cup with great self-confidence. We are not under any pressure and we are certainly not afraid of our opponents. "The title may be symbolic, but the game itself is very important. Of course, it will not be the end of the world for the losing side. "This is what I would like to emphasise on to my players. They should out there and play with absolute freedom."

Emirate stunned Wahda in the semi-finals of the President's Cup last season, before defeating Al Shabab in the final as Eid Baroud, their former coach, became the first Emirati to guide a club to silverware in the modern era of UAE football. In the 12-team Pro League, however, the club from Ras al Khaimah finished 11th - 44 points behind Wahda - and were relegated along with Ajman. Ghrairi, who replaced Baroud for the new season, has promised a performance against Wahda that will prove Emirate still deserve to be playing in the top flight.

"The Super Cup is a different game," he said. "Both the clubs are at the beginning of the season, but hopefully we will be able to put up an entertaining display and prove our team deserves to be playing in the Pro League and not in the First Division. "We have set goals for the entire season and we have prioritised them. "The first priority is the Super Cup and we enter this game with a lot of courage and self-confidence. I believe both teams have equal opportunities. After tomorrow, we will start thinking about the other competitions.

"The league is our main target, but the season is full of challenges. Later we have the Asian Champions League, which will be a good experience. "Participating in such a tournament will be highly beneficial for the team, especially for the youngsters who need participation at such events to mature as players. "But we will not be at the ACL just to make up the numbers. Our efforts will be to bring honour to the UAE through our participation."

Joaquin insisted Wahda were not making the mistake of taking Emirate lightly after that President's Cup upset. "This is our first official game [of the season] and we are feeling ready after the camp in Germany," he said. "We want to make the best possible start to the season and take our game to the next level as defending champions."

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

Iftar programme at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Established in 1998, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding was created with a vision to teach residents about the traditions and customs of the UAE. Its motto is ‘open doors, open minds’. All year-round, visitors can sign up for a traditional Emirati breakfast, lunch or dinner meal, as well as a range of walking tours, including ones to sites such as the Jumeirah Mosque or Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.

Every year during Ramadan, an iftar programme is rolled out. This allows guests to break their fast with the centre’s presenters, visit a nearby mosque and observe their guides while they pray. These events last for about two hours and are open to the public, or can be booked for a private event.

Until the end of Ramadan, the iftar events take place from 7pm until 9pm, from Saturday to Thursday. Advanced booking is required.

For more details, email or visit


The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE



Director: Carla Gutierrez

Starring: Frida Kahlo

Rating: 4/5

The Little Things

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto

Four stars


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5


Company: Educatly
Started: 2020
Based: UAE
Founders: Mohmmed El Sonbaty, Joan Manuel and Abdelrahman Ayman
Industry: Education technology
Funding size: $2 million
Investors: Enterprise Ireland, Egypt venture, Plus VC, HBAN, Falak Startups

Dubai works towards better air quality by 2021

Dubai is on a mission to record good air quality for 90 per cent of the year – up from 86 per cent annually today – by 2021.

The municipality plans to have seven mobile air-monitoring stations by 2020 to capture more accurate data in hourly and daily trends of pollution.

These will be on the Palm Jumeirah, Al Qusais, Muhaisnah, Rashidiyah, Al Wasl, Al Quoz and Dubai Investment Park.

“It will allow real-time responding for emergency cases,” said Khaldoon Al Daraji, first environment safety officer at the municipality.

“We’re in a good position except for the cases that are out of our hands, such as sandstorms.

“Sandstorms are our main concern because the UAE is just a receiver.

“The hotspots are Iran, Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq, but we’re working hard with the region to reduce the cycle of sandstorm generation.”

Mr Al Daraji said monitoring as it stood covered 47 per cent of Dubai.

There are 12 fixed stations in the emirate, but Dubai also receives information from monitors belonging to other entities.

“There are 25 stations in total,” Mr Al Daraji said.

“We added new technology and equipment used for the first time for the detection of heavy metals.

“A hundred parameters can be detected but we want to expand it to make sure that the data captured can allow a baseline study in some areas to ensure they are well positioned.”

The specs

Engine: 3.6-litre, V6
Transmission: eight-speed auto
Power: 285hp
Torque: 353Nm
Price: Dh159,900
On sale: now

Milestones on the road to union


October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.


March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

Sun jukebox

Rufus Thomas, Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog) (1953)

This rip-off of Leiber/Stoller’s early rock stomper brought a lawsuit against Phillips and necessitated Presley’s premature sale to RCA.

Elvis Presley, Mystery Train (1955)

The B-side of Presley’s final single for Sun bops with a drummer-less groove.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, Folsom Prison Blues (1955)

Originally recorded for Sun, Cash’s signature tune was performed for inmates of the titular prison 13 years later.

Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes (1956)

Within a month of Sun’s February release Elvis had his version out on RCA.

Roy Orbison, Ooby Dooby (1956)

An essential piece of irreverent juvenilia from Orbison.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire (1957)

Lee’s trademark anthem is one of the era’s best-remembered – and best-selling – songs.


Barcelona 4 (Messi 23' pen, 45+1', 48', Busquets 85')

Celta Vigo 1 (Olaza 42')


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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