x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dhows to star in finale of Volvo Ocean Race

Boats were packed and flown from Abu Dhabi to Ireland.

Two traditional Arabian dhows will create a "memorable spectacle" this week as part of celebrations to mark the finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in Ireland.

The boats were flown from Abu Dhabi yesterday and will be on display in the western Irish city of Galway as the nine-month race around the world comes to an end.

Travelling with them are eight Emirati sailors as part of the UAE-Ireland Maritime Heritage Cultural Exchange to highlight social and cultural ties between the countries.

The project was begun by the Galway Hooker Association, which promotes the use of the traditional fishing boat of that name, and the Emirates Heritage Club.

It has been co-organised by the Irish Business Council, the non-profit organistion Let's Do It Global and the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club and sponsored by Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi.

The trip coincides with UAE Day on July 5, during which Galway is expected to come alive with UAE colours and flags, said organiser Peter Vine, an Abu Dhabi-based Irish expatriate.

"The Emirati sailors will get a taste of Irish sailing and hospitality with an introduction to the culture and maritime traditions of the west coast of Ireland," he said.

The cultural exhcnage began with the arrival of an Irish sailing boat, dubbed Little Nora, in Abu Dhabi in December. The hooker was shipped from Galway to coincide with the Volvo Ocean Race stopover here.

The exchange of boats was about "building a relationship" for collaborations between the two countries.

"This idea of the UAE spreading its culture through sailing has a real resonance," Mr Vine said. "This is just the start of a much more global reach by the UAE through sailing."

During their visit, the Emirati sailors will be given a chance to crew the Irish hookers, and vice versa, said Mr Vine. He added that a friendly race might happen, depending on the weather.

A hooker is traditionally black with dark redlateen sails, a triangular sail still used on Arab dhows.

molson@thenational.ae