Skateboarding is sweeping the UAE with more skate parks popping up and more sports enthusiasts picking up a board and taking to the streets and ramps. We caught up with swedish skater Adam Sahlstedt, who is also Vans; brand ambassador in the Middle East, to talk fitness benefits, the Abu Dhabi skating scene, and future goals…

Do you remember the first time you started skating and how did it feel?

I started skating after watching my big brother Victor skate and by him letting me borrow his board. I used to skate behind our house after ice hockey or football practice in the small town of Tranas (Tranås – Sweden) with my friend Emil who lived down the street. We used to build small jumps and curbs out of old wooden loading trays (lastpallar) and plywood that we got from an industrial area a couple of blocks away. Compared to playing ice hockey or football, skateboarding felt much more free because you could do it whenever you felt like it and you didn’t need to be a lot of people to be able to do it, just your board. So eventually I quit ice hockey and football and just continued skateboarding. It really helped having a great mom that paid for all those skateboard decks and that has always been supportive of everything I’ve done.

How does skateboarding in UAE differ from Sweden and the rest of Europe?

There’s a big difference. The summers in Sweden are pretty short and the ground is often pretty rough because of the snowy winters, so you get used to skating crowded indoor parks or spots that kids from UAE probably wouldn’t even consider “spots” since the ground and run-ups are so bad. Sweden has very few natural marble ledges and big open plazas with perfect flat surfaces – compared to the UAE where it feels like you can find natural great skate spots with marble almost everywhere.

“it’s a great way for both kids and adults to stay in shape. By just standing on the board going down the street…

Describe the UAE skateboard scene…

Thanks to the royal families there are several easy accessible skate parks you can visit, for instance Tashkeel, Business Bay Skate Park and the indoor Zoo Skate Park in Dubai and the Family Skate Park in Abu Dhabi. You can never get enough skate parks though (haha!) it’s a really fun and cost effective way to get kids away from the computer and TV and couple of hours a day to do some physical activity.

Is skateboarding a sport or a lifestyle, and how has going PRO changed your life?

Skateboarding can mean different things depending on who you ask. Some people see it as a sport and some as an art form. My sponsors have definitely helped me out a lot over the years. I have a good relationship with all of them, for instance the people at Vans feel like family.

How many hours a week do you skate and tell us some of your favorite tricks?

It depends on how busy my schedule is. Some weeks I skate for a couple of hours almost every day and some weeks I can’t because I’m out traveling somewhere. But I always try to bring my board everywhere I go. Some of my favorite tricks are the ones you use going up and down street curbs while just going to the store, school or work, like ollies, 180’s, manuals etc.

Do you prefer street or ramp?Vans_HR-1-147

I grew up skating street but I prefer skating a fun ramp. When my dad lived out on the countryside when we were kids he built a mini-ramp for my big brother in a barn so I grew up skating a lot in that.

Name skateboarders that inspire you? 

Hazze Lindgren – he is hands down my biggest inspiration in skateboarding. An innovator with a great style and a bag of tricks like no one else. He is also an incredibly cool and nice guy that I’ve had the pleasure to skate with many times. Also Jeff Pulkkinen, Albin Brodd and Oskar Karlsson.

Where do you see your skateboarding career taking you in the next five years?

Me and my sponsors long-term goal is to help out fighting child obesity in the UAE and promote health awareness and physical activity by giving as many kids as possible the chance to try out skateboarding and show them that there is more fun things to do besides only sitting by the computer or TV all day. If any skaters, beginners or more experienced, want to skate in Dubai, they can get in touch with me on Instagram @Adam_Dubai or email me at AdamDubai@ and I’ll reply as soon as possible!

What is the best way to start skateboarding for beginners?

To get a complete skateboard from an actual skateboard store and not from a toy store or grocery store. The “real” skateboards from the skateboard stores are often more expensive but there is a big difference between buying skateboards built by toy companies compared to quality skateboards built by skater-owned companies.

Advice for young people and amateurs looking to go PRO…

A professional skateboarder (PRO skater) is someone that can make a living out of the financial support received by sponsors and endorsements. Just skate and have fun and if you’re talented you will eventually get there, naturally. But no one should skate just to become sponsored, they should do it because it’s so much fun.

Some fitness benefits of skateboarding…

It’s a great way for both kids and adults to stay in shape. You don’t have to be flying around doing tricks to get the fitness benefits. By just standing on the board going down the street you automatically use several of the muscles in your legs and torso to keep your balance. And because it’s so much fun two-three hours of skating will feel like half an hour. So it’s a great alternative if you want to get in shape but don’t like going to the gym or out running.