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Bangladeshi expats turn Abu Dhabi into Mirpur

  • Published at 09:48 pm September 20th, 2018
Bangladesh fan
Bangladesh fans cheer during the Tigers’ Asia Cup match against Afghanistan in the UAE Thursday AFP

The second game being in Abu Dhabi, against Afghanistan, it was expected that the opposition would enjoy more support as their expats outnumber the Bangladeshi expats

Bangladesh cricket team played their first match in Abu Dhabi when they faced Afghanistan on Thursday in the Asia Cup. 

But the Tigers almost felt at home as the expat Bangladeshis filled the stadium in numbers to make a festive mood that looked like any stadium of a Bangladeshi city. 

The United Arab Emirates is a big hub for south Asian people as the expatriates from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka make up a large portion of its inhabitants. 

It was expected that the Asia Cup in this desert country will create a fiesta for those expatriates. 

People from Bangladesh constitute only about 7.4 % of the total 8.4m expats of this country but they seemed to be the most eager to encourage their countrymen amid scorching heat and unendurable sun. 

This edition of the Asia Cup was supposed to be hosted by India, but as the Board of Control for Cricket in India declined to host the tournament in their country, it was shifted to this Middle Eastern country.

The euphoria of Bangladeshi’s expatriates was also visible in the Tigers’ first match against Sri Lanka in Dubai, the most populous area of the country. 

The second game being in Abu Dhabi, against Afghanistan, it was expected that the opposition would enjoy more support as their expats outnumber the Bangladeshi expats. 

But, once again, Bangladeshis became the centre of the attention as they turned into majority, covering most parts of the stadium with the national green and red colours. 

The fact is more astonishing as most of the Bangladeshis in the UAE are working-class people, who earn very little despite their struggles, yet they spent money and spared the day to cheer their beloved Tigers. 

 The starting price for a ticket for the matches is around Tk2,000 but the black marketers are augmenting the price with a high demand for the Bangladeshis. 

In the game between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, supporters had to pay as many as 15 times compared to the original price but the exorbitant price could not fuse the fun and excitement of these people, who otherwise live a very harsh life.  

A picturesque Abu Dhabi Cricket Stadium but…

Entering the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi for the first time, one may feel whether the location has been rightly set or not. 

The feeling might be the same with the Bangladesh cricketers, who stepped into the venue literally for the first time ever, to play their second and final group stage game against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup on Thursday.   

The stadium with a capacity of 20,000 was established in 2004 at a cost of $22m and without any doubt, it is one of the most beautiful cricket venues in the world. 

However, its location is a bit odd and feels right in the middle of the desert as it is situated at a distance of over 30 minutes from the Abu Dhabi city centre. 

From the highest point of the stadium, that includes the press box, one can see mega establishments - some finished and a few work in progress - but the area is surrounded with sands of a desert that stretch up to the horizon. 

What makes the venue a picturesque site is the structure itself. 

The two ends have large stands and the sides having two green banks with free seating give aesthetic looks. 

However, only the South End stand, that includes the players’ dressing room, the VIP sitting area and the media centre has the shade to relieve the people from the burning sun. 

During the past few weeks it has been widely discussed whether the weather condition at this time of the year in the UAE is suitable for cricket. 

Alongside the cricketers, one might feel pity for the energetic supporters too for the struggles they will have to experience in beating the heat.

With that said, their loud voice will still continue in support of their national teams.