By Joanne Bladd
EXCLUSIVE: RAKIA chief says failed attempt to host sailing event cost emirate $2m.
Ras Al Khaimah’s failed attempt to host the America’s Cup sailing race may have cost it $2m, but it put the emirate on the map, the head of the Gulf state’s investment authority has said.
Khater Massaad, CEO of RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA), also said the amount invested by the emirate to overhaul its infrastructure ahead of the race fell far short of the reported $120m, and that its partner in the bid, Swiss racing syndicate Alinghi, had refunded $5m of the state’s costs.
“Everyone has put so many figures on this,” said Massaad, who is also an adviser to Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, crown prince and deputy ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
“We invested in total $15m. Of that, we’ve been refunded $5m by Alinghi. The remaining $10m was [spent] on infrastructure, but things that we needed to do anyway.”
RAK was reported to have invested $120m in infrastructure, including $50m for modifications to Al Hamra Palace Residence and $1m around Al Hamra Marina, to accommodate the race.
“That was deepening the canal and… adding proper infrastructure for the channel to leave the island. Then putting in electricity, water and finishing the roads to the island, which we needed to do,” said Massaad. “The loss [to Ras Al Khaimah] did not exceed $2m.”
Alinghi had selected the emirate to defend its trophy, one of the oldest and most prestigious in international sport. However, the venue was successfully contested by rival team BMW Oracle Racing, which cited Ras Al Khaimah’s proximity to Iran as a concern.
Massaad admitted he was “shocked” by the allegations, but said the publicity afforded Ras Al Khaimah as a result of the cup wrangle had worked in its favour.
“We were shocked and Alinghi were shocked more than us,” he said. “They came here in full faith. They shifted all their equipment, the team – it cost them a lot of money.
“But it brought so much attention to Ras Al Khaimah, people know us now. Whether good or bad, they know. And as long as they speak about you, it’s always good.”
It is a huge pitty the race didn't take place, I was really looking forward for it. However let's take this as a course to organize an alternative prestigious sailing race.
I agree with Nicola. I was saddened, disappointed and embarrassed by the New York court ruling. I suggest that the best way to deal with this is to host an alternative race - perhaps the Arabian Cup - with local and regional sponsors that could grow to rival the Americas Cup in sponsorship and prestige over time. The Americas Cup has long had a reputation for being won in court rather than on the water - so, RAK, let's create a real sailing challenge worthy of aspirations of the Americas Cup's founders . . . .
Nice to know this and RAK is really wonderful and marvelous place and it deserved that privilege.