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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Dragon Boat Festival returns to Shangri-La, Abu Dhabi

Oriental-style boat race - followed by barbecue - returns to the capital on October 27 and 28

Dragon boat racers go past the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Shagri-La and Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri
Dragon boat racers go past the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Shagri-La and Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri

For the 10th year in a row, Abu Dhabi’s Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri will host the annual Dragon Boat Festival on October 27 and 28. The event has always been held at the venue, taking place along its kilometre-long stretch of sandy beach, and has become a highlight of the capital’s sporting calendar for participants and observers alike.

“The main goal behind hosting this exciting event,” says Jason Mackenzie, the festival’s race director, “is to generate a positive, educational and entertaining relationship between the Shangri-La family and the community at large by bringing a traditional activity from the East to Abu Dhabi.”

Teams consist of up to 20 people and register to compete with a fee of Dh2,500. Each team is supplied with a dragon boat, all necessary equipment and two hour-long training sessions with a seasoned expert. Past events have seen up to 2,000 people taking part and this year there will be a barbecue available to attendees, held at the neighbouring Traders Hotel for Dh170 per head.

The festival will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri
The festival will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri

The Dragon Boat Festival is organised by Siren Events, UAE Dragon Boat and UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, to celebrate Shangri-La’s Asian heritage (it’s headquartered in Hong-Kong,) and, says Ulf Bremer, the general manager at the Abu Dhabi hotel, to build team spirit and promote a healthy lifestyle. With that in mind, he says, both the Shangri-La and Traders hotels enter their own teams.

Organisers are expecting approximately 100 local teams to take part, with the ranks being swelled by a further 20-or-so international teams for what is the largest festival of its kind in the country.

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