We met up with Emirati surfer – Mo Rahma for an insight into the world of surfing in the UAE. Mo talked us through his background in the world of professional rugby, the injury that took him off the pitch and into the water, as his rehabilitation practice introduced him to the waves. As a UAE surfer, Mo is raising the profile of surfers from the region by competing in world-class events and opening the door for others as a motivational speaker to the younger generation in the UAE.
I used to be a professional rugby player; I played for the national team and competed at the rugby world cup in 2008. Then I had a severe injury in my knee and the doctors told me that I couldn’t play anymore. I was really upset and I looked for physiotherapists around the world and I found one here in Dubai who told me the best thing for recovery is running in the water. So I ran in the water every day for about 6 months and then one day I saw some people surfing and wanted to try it, but my trainer told me that I wasn’t ready yet. A year later my trainer reminded me of that day when I wanted to surf, and he told me I was ready. So I took my first wave at Surf House Dubai and I have loved it ever since.
Surfing is one of those sports – I get excited every time I catch a wave, every time I go out and surf; even if just for fun, it reminds me of the feeling I got when I used to compete at a professional level when I played football and rugby. The one place I can just connect to myself and let all my thoughts go away is in the ocean – when I am out there in the lineup and surfing.
I would always say Kelly Slater, but Kelly Slater was influential to a slightly younger generation, so my inspiration is Jimmy Wilson, because when I started surfing he was actually the scene, and I am a fan of John John Florence right now.
Determination: because that’s a quality I have grown up with.
Motivation: I am always self-motivated.
Inspiration: I think what I have done is very inspirational and I like to give that away to people.
It is getting more popular in the UAE, but we are still trying to connect through to the UAE nationals, to the locals, so that’s what I am trying to do – it’s always good to lead by example, so I am going out there to pave the way for the younger generation to get out of their comfort zone. I always say this, but if I had known what surfing was when I was young, I would be a completely different surfer – I would be someone different; I would have better results, and I’m sure it’s the same for younger kids, they just don’t know it yet. When I grew up all I knew was football; the only sport in the world that existed was football, so that’s why I am trying to show schools and universities that there is more out there. There’s a funny story actually: I remember once when I was being sponsored by one of the government sectors for competing, they didn’t know what surfing was – they thought it was like polo and they were asking if I knew how to ride a horse. Since then I have done a lot of motivational speaking at schools, competing and touring to show people that this is what surfing is all about.
My favourite spot here is Al Mamzar Beach – between Dubai and Sharjah; it’s kind of a local spot, not many people know about it. When I started surfing I saw how crowded Sunset Beach was so I just went over there and surfed and had a spot all to myself.
The best place I’ve been to so far is the Maldives. I don’t know if that’s because I saw my best results there, or if that week it was just pumping. It was the best session I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. But yeah, I’m still exploring, still travelling.
So far not yet, but I’m working with a local person here called Bradwin and he’s been helping me to get fit and give some critical feedback about how I’m surfing – what I do right and wrong, but the only problem is that we don’t have great waves here, so it’s very hard to progress.
It’s funny because the best memory of the best wave I ever caught – well I actually wiped out. It was my best memory though. I went to South Africa and the biggest wave I had ridden to that point was about 2-3 feet. When I went there it was more like 10-12 feet – it was solid, strong, and I caught that wave and that was the best memory of a wave I have caught, whether that’s because I then ended up in hospital with broken ribs, or because it was my first time surfing and feeling really really stoked.
For 2015 I still have 2 more competitions to do and next year I aim to do 9 competitions. Everything is funded by myself so far, so everything comes out of my own pocket while I am steadily growing. The plan for 2016 is to release a motivational web series – the first in the Middle East, which shows my story: how I started surfing and the whole concept will follow me playing different sports. For example, me following a professional skateboarder and learning their sport – showing kids and the younger generation how many sports we have available to us in this country. I want to focus more on extreme sports, on board sports mainly and use this to go to schools and universities as a motivational speaker and try to spread the spirit in the UAE.
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