DUBAI, UAE – The countdown is on for local basketball stars as they prepare to face off against each other for a chance to represent the UAE on the global stage. After weeks of qualifiers across the Emirates, the Red Bull Half Court UAE Finals will bring together the best streetball players to go head-to-head on Saturday, June 3 at Satwa Park in Dubai with a Global Final spot at stake.
In the United Arab Emirates, the event has grown in partnership with property developer Arada and brings the exciting mix of streetball, music, fashion and street arts to local communities under the auspices of the Dubai Sports Council. For the forthcoming finale, the course at Satwa Park is set to be revitalized to leave a legacy for the area in partnership with Dubai Municipality.
Egyptian basketball superstar Nadine Selaawi is a global ambassador for Red Bull Half Court; The star of Al Ahly basketball and the Egypt national team is a college-level record breaker in the United States.
After last year’s final in her hometown of Cairo, she believes Emirati players could have what it takes if a format shows different skills compared to the traditional format: “Last year the UAE team did great. I think they might have a fair chance to win it all this time based on what I’ve seen of the competition there.”
“3×3 is an intimate game, an individual team game, and you can express yourself and your skills better than in a regular basketball game,” Selaawi added.
In fact, the format of the event is something that many basketball fans love about the competition and could also benefit the eventual winner of the UAE Finals.
Ehab Amin is the male ambassador of Red Bull Half Court, the hero of Al Ahly and the Egypt national team also had a distinguished college career in the United States. Speaking of the competition, he said: “Half court is such a dynamic format, it’s faster with a short shot clock, each player has to do more and there’s less space, so you need a team of people who can all pass, dribble, dunk – there can be no weakness!”
He added: “All teams are close, the knockout rounds are often decided by two or three points, it could be anyone’s cup of tea.”
Ehab’s thoughts are mirrored in another of the Middle East’s biggest basketball stars: Wael Arakji. The Lebanese player most recently led his country to the finals of the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, earning the MVP award for the tournament.
According to Arakji, the event comes at a golden time for basketball in the region: “The excitement and hunger for the sport has never been greater. The Arab countries were very present and achieved top positions. I’ve played for teams in Tunisia, Qatar and Kuwait and I see the quality of the competition in the UAE, the support for the game and the excitement from the fans is extremely high.”
Looking ahead to the Dubai event, Arakji expects more talent to come from the UAE: “I attended the Red Bull Half Court UAE Finals exhibition match in Dubai last year and it was great to be there and watch the matches , which then took place.” . It’s going to be even slicker this year as they know the format and I’m really looking forward to being a part of it.”
The Red Bull Half Court UAE Finals will be held in Satwa, Dubai on June 3rd. The winners will take part in the global finals in Serbia in September.