Bloodless bullfights earn Gulf owners big bucks

Bloodless bullfights earn Gulf owners big bucks
BATTLE OF THE BEASTS: Emiratis lead their bull toward the ring for a bullfight in Fujairah. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2016

Bloodless bullfights earn Gulf owners big bucks

Bloodless bullfights earn Gulf owners big bucks

FUJAIRAH: There’s no matador, betting or blood when bulls lock horns in the Gulf emirate of Fujairah, but a winning beast in the popular sport can still earn its owner a fortune.

Bullfights are a weekly event at a ring close to the beach on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates.
While it’s believed 16th century Portuguese invaders introduced bullfighting to the Gulf, Fujairah’s version pits two bulls against one another instead of man against beast.
And unlike at bull-on-bull tournaments in Southeast Asia, spectators place no bets — Islamic tradition and Emirati laws forbid it.
A fight lasts just minutes, ending when one of the bulls gives up or is pushed back by its rival to the roar of a commentator’s voice over loudspeakers.
Upon his word, more than a dozen barefooted handlers use ropes to pull the bulls apart before the next bout kicks off.
“Dr. Thomas and Jackson,” says the commentator, introducing the next pair of animals to lock horns.
Despite soaring temperatures, local families and tourists gather around the fenced bull-ring. Some sit atop SUVs, cracking seeds and sipping juice.
Around 80 bulls take part in the hours-long contest. The winning bull in each round is decided by a committee of judges formed of eight local elders.
There are no cash prizes for the owners.
But the value of a winning bull can shoot up in price, attracting offers by traders, some of whom drive in from nearby Oman where the sport is even more popular.
“When a bull is always distinct — winning against other bulls — its price can reach 600,000 dirhams,” said Hamad Al-Matrushi, an elderly committee member and bull-owner.
“But the price of a bull which sometimes performs well and other times not so well would go down to around 120,000 or 80,000 dirhams,” he said.