UAE Swat Challenge: Global commando teams vie for Dh1 million in Dubai

Five all-women teams to take part in competition held from February 3 to 7 in Al Rawayyah

Afra Al Nuaim, head of the Dubai Police women's team, said they are ready to make an impact at this year's Swat Challenge in Dubai. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Dozens of elite crimefighters from across the globe will be competing in this year's UAE Swat Challenge in Dubai.

About 87 teams from 48 countries will be participating in the event, up from 55 last year, with prizes totalling Dh1 million ($272,000) up for grabs.

The fifth annual event will be staged between Saturday and next Wednesday at the Dubai Police training centre in Al Rawayyah, with 11 squads from the UAE taking part.

There will also be five all-women teams taking part in the competition, representing Dubai Police, Abu Dhabi Police, the Chilean Police Investigations, the Militsiya from Belarus and the Royal Thai Police.

The UAE Swat Challenge is organised by the Dubai Police and held under the patronage of Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

It first started in 2019 and involves teams from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and the Ministry of Interior, as well as squads from overseas.

This is what goes on inside the UAE's high-octane Swat challenge

All-women Emiratis SWAT team exercise during a training at Dubai Police in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 7, 2023.  REUTERS / Rula Rouhana

The event aims to promote co-operation and understanding between international Swat teams and highlight best practices.

There are five tests – tactical, assault, officer rescues, tower events and obstacle courses – designed to assess the tactical skills, mental focus and physical endurance of the participating teams.

“This edition is unique as we will have five all-female teams competing, up from only one team last year,” said Brig Obaid Mubarak Al Ketbi, deputy director of protective security and emergencies for security affairs and head of the organising committee for the UAE Swat Challenge.

Preparing an all-women team for Dubai Police was a challenge, said First Lieutenant Yaser Al Zarouni, leader of the Dubai Police teams, but he added that they now have a “confident, well-trained and fully prepared team”.

Last year, the UAE's trailblazing first all-women team was made up of jiu-jitsu champions, keen-eyed sharpshooters and officers chosen to protect A-list celebrities.

“Competing in a male-dominated field, our all-female team managed to rank 10th, surpassing 45 men's teams, which is a significant achievement,” he said.

Lt Al Zarouni said their participation has been a catalyst for more women's teams joining the competition.

He hopes that the number of all-women teams grows to 20 in the near future.

Afraa Al Nuaimi, head of the Dubai Police's women's team, said they are ready to make a remarkable impact in the competition.

“I hope we will deliver a performance that will inspire everyone,” she said.

More than 30 international referees will ensure fair play and professional conduct throughout the competition.

The total prize money has been increased this year from $170,000 last year.

The overall winner will receive $80,000, with the runners-up securing $40,000 and the third-placed team earning $30,000.

Competitions will start from 6.30pm on Saturday and will continue from 8am to 5pm on the following days.

Updated: January 31, 2024, 1:12 PM