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Sat 11 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Bowled over

You may notice that this month's issue seems to carry quite a lot of reporting from the bowling world. While this is simply a happy coincidence of some of the biggest players stepping up their efforts in the Middle East, this does give me an extremely good reason to talk about why they are doing this, and what the implications are for the region.

You may notice that this month's issue seems to carry quite a lot of reporting from the bowling world. While this is simply a happy coincidence of some of the biggest players stepping up their efforts in the Middle East, this does give me an extremely good reason to talk about why they are doing this, and what the implications are for the region.

All of us are familiar with the advantages and challenges in the GCC. On the one hand, we have a population that generally has a high disposable income and a desire to ‘blow off steam' after putting in hours of hard work every week.

On the other hand, we have a climate that for at least four months of the year discourages people from going outside and let's face it, a lack of leisure facilities for the number of people here.

As a Western expat in my 20s, inevitably yes, I do spend some of my leisure time in bars. But in all honesty, I'm bored. A leisure activity that requires you to hand over 50Dhs every half hour or so just so you can sit in a dark room with increasingly incomprehensible people you already know gets dull pretty quickly. It's a bit like visiting a cinema every week and finding the only movies ever available are the complete works of Adam Sandler. A bit of variety wouldn't go amiss - a bit of variety that isn't going to cost a fortune, that is.

Furthermore, there is always the perennial debate about integration between expats and the local population. I can't help but think bowling's a perfect opportunity. It's an activity that's culturally appropriate for everyone, adds a little competitive edge to things and is above all, fun. I'm not suggesting that bowling is something that will magically build bridges between everyone here in the Middle East but I would suggest that it encourages a people from a variety of different backgrounds to at least interact positively in the same area, and that's got to be a good thing for everyone.

The perfect leisure activity for this region needs to be affordable, possible to do at any time of the year, and suitable for all ages, nationalities, beliefs and abilities. Bowling is one of the very few leisure activities that ticks all those boxes. As Roger Creamer from QubicaAMF has said, there aren't many leisure activities that you could play with your daughter and your father.

So we've established that bowling is a good leisure option for the region. What else do you think could score a strike here? Please don't spare me your thoughts, and join in the debate.

James Boley is the deputy editor of Leisure Manager.

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Marissa 11 years ago

Dear James, I could not agree more with your article. I see it every day in our bowling centre here at Kempinski Hotel Ajman; it fills up every day despite the economic situation: it is inexpensive and it is a fun afternoon/evening out. Furthermore, you will see many groups made up of a mix of locals and expats so that answers the question raised on inter-racial integration. Regards, Marissa Garcia Olm