HIGH-FLYING HERITAGE SWOOPS INTO ABU DHABI’S VOLVO OCEAN RACE STOPOVER
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 27th November 2014: As the falcon-emblazoned main sail of Azzam, the Volvo 65 yacht of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – the emirate’s Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) contestant, billows into view at the end of the race Leg 2 in the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) capital next month, the real birds of prey – now the UAE’s national bird – will be waiting to greet the hardy fleet sailors.
The Abu Dhabi Falconer’s Club (ADFC) – a body which strives to preserve the ancient sport of falconry – is sweeping into the VOR Destination Village on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Breakwater ready to give the sailors, their families, fans and visitors a taste of a sport where birds can change hands for millions of dirhams and where competition prizes range from seven-figure cheques to luxury sedans.
“We’ll have falcons on display every day,” said ADFC’s Sultan Al Mahmood. Visitors will be able to meet local falconers and have their photographs taken with their majestic birds. We’ll use the Stopover to explain the traditions of falconry and to show how modern technology is being applied to a sport that dates back hundreds of years.”
“As with sailing, hunting in its many forms played an important part in our history and we help preserve and promote the tradition of falconry.”
To develop and promote the sport, ADFC organises local and international competitions, conferences and events, collaborating with government entities including the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Education Council and Abu Dhabi Environment Authority.
“Falconry, like the sea, is in our blood,” said Al Mahmoud. “Yes the stopover will celebrate our maritime heritage but it’s also a chance to show part of our desert heritage. The fact that Azzam bears the symbol of the falcon demonstrates the importance of this bird in our culture.”
ADFC is also responsible, together with the Emirates Falconry Society, for preserving sustainable falconry in Abu Dhabi. It maintains key areas for falconry and organises educational and awareness programmes to train people how to deal with the falcons. The emirate also boasts the award-winning Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital – one of the largest and most-advanced facilities of its type – which visitors can tour to get up-close and personal with these treasured feathered companions.
Hosted by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the VOR Stopover will be a major celebration of the Emirate’s heritage, present and future. The Destination Village, which opens on December 12, will feature three weeks of sailing action, watersports, entertainment and family fun, with 175,000 visitors expected to attend.
The Stopover opens with the Arabian debut of BBC Worldwide’s highly acclaimed ‘Blue Planet in Concert Live’, which will be performed on a 10-metre-wide screen placed on a purpose-built, floating stage in the waters off Abu Dhabi’s Corniche accompanied by the 75-piece, National Symphony Orchestra, Abu Dhabi led by celebrity guest conductor George Fenton.
The village closes on the evening of 3rd January when the awe-inspiring race fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s departs for its next endurance sailing leg to Sanya, China.