10/10/2011 Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has signed a multi-tiered agreement with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, to support the emirate’s involvement in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race.  

The deal sees Etihad Airways’ logo featured prominently on the hull and sails of ADTA’s Volvo Ocean Race yacht, Azzam (Arabic for determination), as well as across its Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team clothing during the 2011/12 global event.  

Etihad Airways also becomes presenting sponsor of the fortnight-long race stopover in Abu Dhabi, which begins on New Year’s Eve at the purpose-built ‘Destination Village’ on the Corniche Breakwater, as well as title sponsor of the In-Port Race on January 13, 2012.  

The airline’s destination management company, Hala Abu Dhabi, becomes the preferred travel partner for the Abu Dhabi stopover.  

“This race will take Abu Dhabi and our national carrier into key source markets where we will bring our combined market muscle to bear in optimising this unique opportunity for our mutual benefits,” said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA - which is behind Abu Dhabi’s involvement with the race.  

The Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12, which begins in Alicante, Spain on October 29 and concludes in Galway, Ireland in summer 2012, is a 39,000 nautical mile, nine-month, round-the-world sailing race, taking in 10 destinations over nine gruelling legs across four oceans.  

As the first-ever Arabian hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race, the stopover will bring significant exposure to Abu Dhabi through a number of enhanced promotional activities and awareness initiatives planned.  

The race will also serve as a platform to showcase Etihad Airways and the UAE capital to a global audience via Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s pursuit of top honours in the race.  

The team will make history as the first Middle Eastern challenger to enter the race, sailing its state-of-the-art Volvo Open 70 race yacht, Azzam.  

James Hogan, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “We are delighted to partner Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and welcome the yachts, sailors and thousands of visitors to Abu Dhabi as they fly in from around the world on our airline to be part of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12 spectacle.  

“Etihad Airways has a strong association with elite sport worldwide, through partnerships with Manchester City Football Club and the Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and we look forward to becoming a part of the exhilarating world of ocean racing.”  

Plans are well underway for Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12 yachting fleet and its thousands of fans this New Year, with a fortnight of activities scheduled around the event.  

The purpose-built Destination Village will be the focal point for Abu Dhabi as it welcomes the procession of awe-inspiring racing yachts, sea hardened sailors and more than 100,000 fans for the third leg stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. It will open free of charge to the public from December 31 2011 – January 14 2012.  

ADTA has committed to a fully-packed entertainment program for the stopover, including exhibitions, shows, simulators, hospitality, game zones, restaurants and cafes, sailing academies, shops and concerts

With Etihad Airways and Hala Abu Dhabi, ADTA is also developing tailored holiday race packages for international travellers. Visitors can look forward to these signature events during the race’s stopover in Abu Dhabi: 

  • Destination Village Opens: December 31, 2011          
  • New Year’s Eve Party @ Volvo Ocean Race Abu Dhabi Stopover: December 31, 2011      
  • Arrival ceremony of Volvo Ocean Race yachts: January 1-2, 2012 (approx)
  • Pro-Am Race: January 12, 201
  • In-Port Race: January 13, 2012
  • Departure ceremony of Volvo Ocean Race yachts: January 14, 2012 

Led by double-Olympic medallist Ian Walker of Great Britain, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is the most intercontinental team ever entered into the Volvo Ocean Race.  

Representing five continents, the crew also boasts two UAE nationals – 22-year-old Olympian Adil Khalid and 27-year-old Butti Al Muhairi – who beat more than 120 hopefuls to earn their places on the sailing and shore teams respectively. Their participation will mark the first time a Gulf national has competed in this ultimate endurance race.