Little-known bullfighting tradition lives on in UAE
Far from Dubai’s gleaming skyscrapers and renowned camel races, a bullfight is under way in the emirate of Fujairah, where the tradition continues unbeknown to most in the United Arab Emirates.
“Look at them fight!” a commentator shouts into a microphone as the first bovine battle of the day kicks off in the village of Al-Qurayyah.
Two bulls, each weighing in at hundreds of kilograms, charge at each other while assistants hold ropes attached to their necks or legs for safety. Sometimes the huge animals come dangerously close to the spectators, sending them fleeing from their chairs.
About 200 men, women and children are gathered in a large field to watch, with children perched on the roofs of 4X4 vehicles and pick-ups.
Trucks carrying bulls have converged from all over the region on the arena, a dirt field wedged between rocky mountains and the Gulf of Oman.
About 50 of the beasts are scattered around, and their bellowing echoes across the area.
Unlike the bullfights popular in Spain and Mexico, where the animals are typically slain by matadors, in Fujairah two beasts go head-to-head with far less fatal consequences. The competition typically ends after about an hour, with each fight lasting just one or two minutes.
Animal welfare groups have however denounced the sport as cruel and abusive.
Elsayed Mohamed, the regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, argued that just because something has been part of a society for so long does not make it right.
“Every culture has many bad traditions, but because it’s a tradition, we have to follow?” he asked, noting that animal fights are prohibited under UAE law.