Dubai’s World Skate Tour event a 'major step' towards UAE skateboarding community

Back-to-back Park and Street Pro Tour Stop competitions at Dubai Harbour welcomed world’s greatest male and female skateboarders with Olympic qualification at stake

The purpose-built championship-class venue at Dubai Harbour for the World Skate Championship 2024.

After two weeks of thrilling action and elite competition featuring the greatest skateboarders on Earth, the World Skate Tour’s latest appearance in the UAE came to an end this past weekend.

One year on from the 2022 World Skate Championships in Sharjah – the Middle East’s debut pro skating event met with unanimous acclaim from all involved – the stage was set for another marvellous sporting spectacle. This time around, the destination was Dubai. And this time around, something even more special and significant unfolded.

Hosted by World Skate and Arada, the sport’s biggest and best names descended on Dubai Harbour for back-to-back competitions – of unparalleled significance. Across the men’s and women’s Park and Street Pro Tour Stops, 430 athletes from a record-breaking 65 countries went head-to-head, with Dubai the gateway to the grandest sporting event of all – the Olympic Games.

But for Arada, bringing world-class skateboarding back to these shores was part of a much broader vision to build a global community right here in the UAE, fostering the growth of local talent in the process.

Crucially, the purpose-built, championship-class venue at Dubai Harbour has given the skating community another first-hand glimpse not only of this commitment, but also of what awaits in the future.

“This was another major step,” explained Ray Tinston, events director at Arada, when recalling the reaction and reception from athletes and aspirational talent with hopes of realising their skateboarding dreams. “Some were in tears when they arrived because they couldn’t believe what we’d produced – it was what they always thought skateboarding could be in their hearts. The venue really showed the evolution taking place in the sport. We’ve had comments that it’s been than the Olympics and we’re humbled that we’ve been able to produce it.”

As pivotal final qualifiers on the ‘Road to Paris’ and this summer’s quadrennial showpiece in the French capital, local sports fans joined international skate enthusiasts for an extravaganza unlike any ever seen in Dubai.

However, all this was made possible thanks to the emirate’s interconnectivity. The event was held in partnership with Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), alongside venue partner Shamal Holding and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of DSC.

While speaking about the partnership ecosystem behind the event’s success, Tinston said: “We’re so grateful to all involved – their support and contributions have been incredible. Skateboarding is an Olympic and urban sport that ties in with Dubai’s youth culture and ticks a lot of boxes for the government verticals within this emirate and the wider UAE. Everyone really came together to deliver a world-class event that will also support community development programmes moving forward. It’s been a real pleasure working alongside our partnership ecosystem.”

A sport with so much potential, skateboarding made its Olympic debut last time out at Tokyo 2020 – attracting more global viewership than the other 33 sports combined. [JH1] Arada has recognised this potential – and aims to nurture and expand the local skating scene whilst providing opportunities for up-and-coming talent to thrive.

“The Olympic Games has changed everything for skating and there are three clear channels that carve a path to success for young athletes,” Tinston continued. “Outside of the Olympic channel, there’s the core channel which encompasses many events outside of the Olympics, and the feeder channel. We aim to facilitate opportunities for Emirati skaters to explore these channels and compete at the highest level.”

Already, Arada has taken a quantum leap towards paving the way for a flourishing skateboarding community by constructing Sharjah’s Aljada skatepark complex. The 90,000-square-foot complex has become a major attraction for skateboarding enthusiasts from across the country since hosting the 2022 World Championships – hosting weekly competitions.

However, this is just the beginning for Arada. With sustained development a top priority in the years ahead, the UAE-based master developer has a clear pathway for enhancing the community and overseeing growth.

“We want to be even more meaningful and impactful,” Tinston added when outlining Arada’s future vision. “This means investing more and we have academies and competitions planned. As we build towards more tournaments, we'll involve the local and international federations to help ensure that platforms are there for local skaters to compete.

“There’s already a core community here in the UAE and young kids coming through the circuit now are a completely different breed of skateboarder because they’ve got a different focus with viable pathways and fantastic facilities to practice and test themselves.

“Just being here in Dubai these past few weeks, young talent have been so excited to meet their heroes and stars of the sport. They’ve become inspired and, as a host and organiser, that’s all we can ask for.”

Updated: March 15, 2024, 9:18 AM