x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Surfers conquer the waves to benefit tsunami victims

Dubai event raises funds for the survivors of last month's devastating event that killed more than 400 people.

Nathan Lopez, right, from France, prepares to take part in Charity Paddle Around the Burj to raise money for the Mentawi Tsunami Appeal, in Dubai yesterday.
Nathan Lopez, right, from France, prepares to take part in Charity Paddle Around the Burj to raise money for the Mentawi Tsunami Appeal, in Dubai yesterday.

DUBAI // Dozens of surfers and swimmers took to Dubai waters over the weekend in support of those affected by last month's devastating tsunami in Indonesia.

More than 400 people were killed and thousands left homeless after the tsunami was triggered by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck close to the Mentawai island chain off Sumatra on October 25.

For Saeed al Abbar, a member of the UAE's surfing community and the organiser of the charity event, the disaster was particularly shocking. He had been on a surfing holiday and left Sumatra just 24 hours before the tsunami hit.

"I had been there with some friends and so we figured we would try to help out, especially because there is a desperate need for funds and for relief work at the moment," said Mr al Abbar, 26, from Dubai.

Members of Dubai's burgeoning surfing community took up the cause on Friday morning, as they paddled or swam around the Burj al Arab, with all proceeds going towards SurfAid International, an NGO focusing on medical, development and relief work.

"There is a need to rebuild villages around the affected areas, as well as for ongoing emergency relief," Mr al Abbar said.

Candice Howe, 25 from England, was among those who took part in the challenge.

"Many of the surfers here have been to Indonesia," she said, shortly after completing the 2.5km course. "This was just a chance for the surf community to get together and give something back."

By the end of the day, about 40 people completed the course, raising around Dh15,000 for the cause.

 

zconstantine@thenational.ae