Countdown: Less than a month to go until the Gulf Youth Games. UAE NOC

The inaugural Gulf Youth Games, hosted by the United Arab Emirates from 16 April to 2 May, will bring together more than 3,500 athletes under the theme "Our Gulf is One? Our Youth is Promising". The competitions will take place in different countries.

The Dubai Opera will host the tournament's opening ceremony on 23 April. It will feature a series of artistic and cultural performances, including a spectacular display of technological methods and artificial intelligence techniques. 

Competitions will be held in various emirates across the country. All the federations have started their final training sessions in order to arrive at the event in the best possible shape. 

The handball competition is scheduled to start on Saturday 23 March. This is the final stage of the UAE national handball team's preparations for the 2006 Gulf Games. 

Daily training will continue under the guidance of coach Khaled Ahmed Al Balushi and his assistants Ibrahim Al Amiri and Tariq Al Balushi. The team manager will be Khamis Al Suwaidi. The national team will play 5 friendlies in the final phase of preparation. The first of these will take place on 28 March.

The UAE authorities are engaged in the preparations to host the Gulf Youth Games. UAE NOC
The UAE authorities are engaged in the preparations to host the Gulf Youth Games. UAE NOC

The initial list of players selected for the tournament comprises 18 players: Hamad Saif Al Oud, Abdullah Al Obeidli and Ibrahim Al Ashar, Omar Al Salman, Abdul Rahman Al Balushi and Hamdan Al Nuaimi, Mansour Obaid Al Qars of Sharjah, Musa Al Aswad, Omar Al Balushi, Abdullah Al Badawi of Shabab Al Ahli, Al Jazira's Khaled Al Saadi of Al Ain, Mohammed Saeed and Nasser Al Safar of Al Nasr.

Nasser Al Hammadi, secretary general of the handball federation, said training would continue until the national team's internal camp in Sharjah. Al Hammadi said: "The national team will continue to train. A final list will be drawn up by the technical staff in the coming days from the initial squad that was announced."

At the paddle tennis level, preparations for the UAE national team, which began in January, will continue. The team's preparations will be led by Sergio Ricardo, technical director, and Javi Lopez, coach, assisted by administrator Saud Bin Rakan, under the supervision of Omar Sharif Al Marzouqi, federation board member, director of teams and competitions.

Authorities and athletes come together at Gulf Youth Games. UAE NOC
Authorities and athletes come together at Gulf Youth Games. UAE NOC

Omar Sharif, Chairman of the Paddle Tennis Technical Committee for the Gulf Games, also confirmed the participation of the national team players in a number of local tournaments in addition to the ongoing Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament. "The best 12 players will be selected to represent the UAE national team in the inaugural Gulf Games. The selected players will be in the U-14, U-16 and U-18 age groups, with 4 players in each category," he said.

In the first edition of the Gulf Games, the paddle tennis competitions will be limited to young and junior players only. There will be no competitions for girls and young women.

Omar explained: "The programme includes an internal camp at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex in accordance with the technical and preparation plan of the coaches, and at the end the list of players for the national team for the tournament will be announced." He is also confident that the results of the tournament will be positive and will demonstrate the UAE's interest in paddle tennis.