Abu Dhabi breaks new ground as host of Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi has been confirmed as the first Middle East stopover in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race, while a boat from the emirate will appear in next year's competition.
The new marina being built at Emirates Palace - the emirate's signature hotel and among the world's most opulent - will be the focal point of the host port.
"We found in Abu Dhabi an incredible synergy," said Volvo Ocean Race chief executive Knut Frostad. "This destination has a long maritime history which it wishes to elevate to a new era while celebrating the achievements of the past. There was a willingness to meet our requirements, an understanding of the participants' needs and an enthusiasm which simply stood out ahead of others."
Team Abu Dhabi, a crew specially selected by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) will race in the 2011-12 competition in a new Volvo Open 70 which will be built in the UAE capital by the Abu Dhabi Mar Group.
"It is our ambition to include a UAE national in the crew who will be our ocean ambassador representing the emirate's long seafaring heritage," said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, the director general of the ADTA. "The locally-constructed boat will also signal our potential as a new build and repair port, which will recall the heady days when vessels made on these shores set sail for months of pearling expeditions and proved to be among the sturdiest afloat."
Al Muhari said the neighbouring emirates and the broader gulf region is expected to get fully behind the event and to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race fleet to the region when the crews arrive in Abu Dhabi at the finish of leg two from Cape Town, South Africa.
The remaining host ports will be revealed throughout the remainder of March.