Meet the UAE’s first male and youngest national team figure skater
Inspired by a TV show at just six years old, Emirati-British ice skater Dhiyab Al Darmaki has become the youngest member of the UAE national team. Now ten, the determined youngster has his sights firmly set on the 2026 Winter Olympics. I sat down with the charming skater to talk about six-day training programmes and skating at a higher level.
You live in the desert, so how did you get into skating?
I was watching Dancing On Ice and at that time I was horse riding but wasn’t enjoying it so I stopped. My dad said I had to take up another sport so it was between tennis and ice skating. Because I was watching that series I thought, ‘That looks cool, I want to do that’. The jumps, the costumes – it looked exciting…
It’s what I expected 100 percent. But I didn’t expect to get to this level; I just thought it would be a hobby.
What’s your favourite thing about skating?
I like the routine because there’s a bit of everything. On the day you perform it’s really exciting and it’s also fun making [the routine] up…
I just like everything about skating: jumps, spins, edges, routines. And it’s nice when you feel the cold breeze in your hair.
What competitions have you taken part in recently?
My most recent one was the FBMA Trophy, which happens every year. It was my first competition at ISU (International Skating Union) level. I got a good score for my first time.
The judging was more detailed and it was more exciting because I was against someone of higher level.
You train for two to four hours a day, six days a week. How do you find free time?
It’s easier on the weekends with my friends because we’re older and they don’t mind if I get to their house late. Sometimes I wish I had more free time but it’s worth it.
Tell us about your training off the ice…
I do cardio, push-ups, stuff like that. I also do gymnastics once a week and dance once a week. It’s good for your core and fitness.
What are your goals for the future?
I want to get to the Olympics  and be in the top ten – that’s my ultimate goal.
It would be really cool and a good experience. I always wanted to go to the Olympics – having people watching you, doing what you love…
I just want to represent my country and make my country proud.
Do you think more children should get involved in ice skating here?
Lots of people think it’s for girls and it’s really hard. But I think that Emirati boys should do ice skating because… it’s not football, it’s completely different, but it’s still a sport that you can be competitive in and have fun.
Dhiyab has been chosen to represent the UAE at the (ISU level) Egna Trophy in Italy in April. He’ll also take part in Skate Emirates at Zayed Sports City on 28th and 29th April.