Abu Dhabi gears up for Volvo Ocean Race arrivals

Leading yachts due to arrive in UAE capital on Wednesday after second leg of world race
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK compete during the Iberdrola In-Port Race, the opening race of The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Mon 02 Jan 2012 06:35 PM

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's (ADTA) Destination Village is set to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Wednesday.

The first yacht to make it to the UAE capital after the second leg from Cape Town, South Africa, is expected to sail into the village pontoons at around 3.30pm.

Traditional dhows, manned by Emirati crew chanting ancient songs, which once spurred on pearl divers as they endured months and months at sea, will accompany the racing yachts into harbour, ADTA said in a statement on Monday.

The race yachts will dock alongside traditional dhows which will be decked out for the occasion, with Ayala dancers performing as the crew members come ashore.

Girls in traditional dress will shower the crews with confetti in the colours of the UAE flag as they make their way up the pontoon to the welcoming committee.

The yachts will arrive at various times throughout the afternoon and early evening with ADTA planning a celebratory firework show at 6pm.

Faisal Al Sheikh, events manager, ADTA, said: "The arrival of these yachts will be seen around the world... We anticipate a particularly loud roar of applause when our own Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's yacht Azzam, with Adil Khalid, the only Emirati sailor ever to take part in the race, arrive home.

"This is a day when Abu Dhabi writes its way into sailing history annals as we are the only Arabian Gulf city ever to host the race and we are determined it will be a day to remember for all the right reasons and that it is shared with all possible."

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet will be in Abu Dhabi until January 14 when it sails for Sanya in China.

Until it leaves the Destination Village, which is as big as eight football pitches and packed with entertainment, will be open 11am until 11pm daily with extended hours at weekends.

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