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Abu Dhabi Marks Middle East's Volvo Ocean Race Debut

Abu Dhabi Marks Middle East's Volvo Ocean Race Debut



An agreement signed in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi, today will see the Arabian Gulf's emerging marine leisure hub become a host port for the 2011-12 race. A racing team from Abu Dhabi will also take its place on the start line of the race in Alicante, Spain in the autumn of next year.


"This event will take Abu Dhabi's marine leisure proposition to the world and will enable us to demonstrate, first hand, our powerful credentials to a highly influential professional yachting audience," said His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), the agreement's co-signatory.

"Via the expansive international media coverage the race enjoys, Abu Dhabi's name will ride high on another world-class sporting wave," he added.


The agreement, signed between His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, ADTA's Director General and Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race CEO, takes Abu Dhabi into global yachting history as the first Middle East port to host the event since its 1973 inception.


"We found in Abu Dhabi an incredible synergy," said 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 ADTA will tackle the ‘Everest of Sailing', in a newly designed boat, 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 Al Muhairi. "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."


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.

Al Muhairi said Abu Dhabi, its fellow emirates and the wider Gulf 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 Volvo Ocean Race is known for extreme levels of endurance and expertise - values which are synonymous with our own," added Al Muhairi. "I believe the entire region will follow the teams' progress and produce a welcome which will be truly deserving of the legendary Arabian hospitality."

The Volvo Ocean Race traces its origins back to 1973 and is the world's premier offshore sailing race.  The Volvo Open 70 racing boat is sailed by professional athletes, who race around the world with the prevailing winds. 

The remaining host ports will be revealed throughout March.


For media information on the Volvo Ocean Race, please contact:

Lizzie (Green) Ward - Press Officer (in UK)
Mob +44 7801 185 320



Sophie Luther - International Press Officer (in Abu Dhabi)
Tel + 34 966 011 152  Mob +34 606 894 940


High resolution images can be downloaded from    
Tim Stonton, Picture Desk Manager (in Spain)
Tel +34 966 011 151 Mob +34 606 905 497


Full press information can be read and downloaded from



Abu Dhabi Announcement supporting VNR

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 Editors' Notes: The Volvo Ocean Race

  • The next Volvo Ocean Race will start in the Spanish port of Alicante in the autumn of 2011 and finish in Galway, Ireland during the summer of 2012
  • Cape Town, Lisbon and Lorient have already been confirmed as stopover ports
  • The first 31,250 nautical-mile race first took place over 37 years ago (as the Whitbread Round the World Race 1973-74), testing the crews against some of the most ferocious elements that man can encounter
  • The 2011-12 race will be the 11th edition of the event
  • This will be the first time the Middle East has formed part of the route for the Volvo Ocean Race
  • Lying on the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi has a rich maritime tradition as a trading port. Throughout its history, the iconic dhow has plied the trade routes between the city and its neighbouring countries
  • Abu Dhabi city is geographically located on the northeastern part of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula. It is on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf and is located less than 250 metres from the mainland.  It is joined to the mainland by the Maqta and Mussafah bridgesThe design of the boat is regulated and the boat is built for speed





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