x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Louis Vuitton Trophy brings benefits

Sid Bensalah, the general manager of the Dubai International Marine Club at Mina Seyahi, talks to Rebecca Bundhun about the booming sailing industry.

How significant is the Louis Vuitton Trophy for Dubai's sailing industry?

Sailing suffers from lack of exposure. For almost 10 years we've been trying to promote modern sailing. We quickly figured out that when you have a high-profile event like the Louis Vuitton Trophy, it's the right trigger to basically interest the community and influence the decision makers. We want to get youngsters into the sport, beside going to the shopping mall and eating junk food. The whole ball game is how do you promote this sport.

Why is the Louis Vuitton Trophy being held in Dubai?

One of the aspects of choosing a venue is from the lifestyle and fashion aspect as well as the sailing. Don't forget that Dubai is the only city that has five Louis Vuitton stores. This is one of the criteria beside the lifestyle, beside the accessibility, the sailing conditions, the logistics.

What impact do events such as these have on the Emirates?

As a hub for water sports, one of the main reasons why we host 100 events a year is to guarantee to have some activity on the water. Basically, it also keeps the hotels busy. You have the benefits for the community and you have the business related to tourism. Don't forget that the competition in terms of tourism, in terms of filling the hotels, is going to be tough between the different emirates.

What kind of benefits would an event like the America's Cup, which was nearly held in Ras al Khaimah, bring to a destination?

A lot of people from this region were disappointed. For Ras al Khaimah the America's Cup is the right tool to boost business. The America's Cup is over a long period of time. There's a lot of jobs that are created, there's a lot of tourism that comes to the city. It's a guaranteed business for a long period of time.

Is the America's Cup likely to come to the UAE?

For us logistically, to have these boats you need by far much more space. The new design has its advantages and it disadvantages. The advantage is that you guarantee close combat and you don't worry about the depth if it's shallow water. The space required is quite massive. If we do that we have to shut down completely because this hub hosts 100 water sports events a year. But I'm convinced that sooner or later UAE will host the America's Cup. Either Abu Dhabi or Dubai or Ras al Khaimah.

 

rbundhun@thenational.ae