The Dubai Muscle Show is gaining momentum.
Last weekend at Dubai Muscle Show, the Middle East again asserted it’s place as one of the most promising fitness markets on the planet. Bodybuilding stars including Jay Cutler and Kai Greene, among many others, flocked to Dubai to share knowledge, competition, and love of bodybuilding.
Nick Blair, Exhibition Director of Dubai Muscle Show told The National that, “We saw a huge gap, especially in the Arab and local community. A lot of these guys don’t go out and party – so they love to be in the gym and train. The competition we have this year is officially the most athletes ever to compete in the Middle East in a bodybuilding competition.”
Many Arab stars made appearances including Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay , and 2017 Arnold Classic 212 champion Ahmad Ashkanani.
In 1972, when the Mr Universe competition was held in Bagdhad, it represented a massive step for bodybuilding in the Middle East. Iraq even announced that it’s national airline would fly entrants and officials from Geneva, and Pakistan free of charge.
Now, over 40 years later, despite political upheaval and global conflict between east and west, bodybuilding is growing faster than ever through the Middle East.
Egyptian-born Mo Ismail, aka Mo Muscles, said, “Bodybuilding is massive in Egypt. In the 1990s, you saw posters of Arnold [Schwarzenegger] almost everywhere. People look up to them and professional soccer players – a Hercules-type physique is idolised in a way.”
And Ashkanani boasted, “Bodybuilding is the most popular sport in Kuwait, especially in the past five years. Now we have more than 10 Kuwaiti pro athletes.”
Kai Greene flew into Dubai from an expo Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He told TheNational that Arab culture can be very conducive to bodybuilding success.
“Culturally they have some very interesting things – a structure and a lifestyle. So if a champion was having difficulties getting into the headspace, or setting aside the creation of the solitude necessary to train, eat and sleep, it seems they have put together an interesting little world that is totally devoted to being able to do that.”
Dubai Muscle Show has the potential to become one of the biggest fitness expos in the world. One initiative being pursued for next year is international competition among female bodybuilders.
“We are already booked for next year,” Blair said. “It’s going to be 75 per cent bigger.”