Dalma Historical Race Festival to feature world’s longest race for 60ft dhows

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, the sixth edition of the Historic Dalma Race Festival, organized by the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club and Emirates Heritage Club, kicks off tomorrow (Friday 28th).

The sixth edition features 24 marine, beach, heritage and modern sports competitions, for which 284 prizes have been allocated, with a total value of AED 28 million. Among these races is the Historic Dalma Sailing Race (60-foot class), a Traditional Rowing Race, a Stand Up Paddling Race, a shaari fishing contest, a cycling race, beach soccer and beach volleyball tournaments, a swimming race, a running race, in addition to a number of heritage competitions.

The Historic Dalma 60-foot dhows race, which is the highlight of the festival, is the longest among the sailing dhows races, as it covers a total distance of over 80 nautical miles (125 km). It is also the only race that flags off from the historic island of Dalma, and passes by eight different islands, which are Dalma Island as a starting point, Sir Baniyas, Ghasha, Umm Al-Kurkum, Al-Fatayer, Al-Bazm, Al-Fayy, Marawah, and finally Janana, before finishing at Al-Mughirah Corniche beach.

During the festival, a traditional souk (market) covering an area of 25 thousand square meters, will be held. The market includes stalls and shops for productive families, as well as for local craftspeople and talents from Dalma island, in addition to stands and pavilions of the sponsoring, supporting and participating national institutions. The souk will also feature a ‘Noukhatha house’, a children's village, as well as various heritage events and performances of Abu Dhabi folklore troupes affiliated to the Committee, daily cultural competitions and valuable prizes presented on stage to the festival's visitors. The market will be open daily from 4:00 pm. to 10:00 pm.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, President of UAE Marine Sports Federation and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club, thanked the wise leadership for the great support to revive heritage sports, and praised the support and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and his keen interest in organizing the sixth edition of the Historic Dalma Festival, subsequent to the successful previous editions.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan also expressed his thanks to all parties involved in organizing the festival, along with Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club represented by the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, Emirates Heritage Club and Abu Dhabi Sports Council, commending their outstanding cooperation and efforts to highlight the shining heritage image of Dalma Island and the festival.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan stressed that the launch of the historic Dalma Race Festival in its sixth edition is an affirmation of the strength of the Emirati maritime heritage, praising its continuation as a landmark event among the festivals concerned with heritage and ways of preserving it and reviving it. Adding that the festival, which will run from 28 April to 7 May in Dalma Island, will offer a rich program of maritime events and competitions. He said, "Here we are once again in a new edition of Dalma Festival and its various maritime events and other activities that will be held across the island. Certainly the festival's most important event is the historic Dalma 60-foot sailing dhows race, which promotes the legacy of the forefathers and preserves it for the future generations.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan added, “With each season we proudly witness how our heritage shines brighter than ever in the historic island of Dalma. This also sends an important message to the younger generations on how to preserve heritage and pass it on through the generations.

Major General Pilot Fares Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Abu Dhabi Police Commander-in-Chief and Chairman of the he Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee, stressed that the Historic Dalma Race Festival underlines the great role played by the wise leadership in safeguarding and enhancing the nation's heritage, to be passed down to successive generations.

He praised the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, in support of heritage marine sports in particular and heritage conservation projects in general. He also thanked H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Al Dhafra Region, for his continuous follow-up and support to the various heritage and development events and festivals hosted by Al Dhafra region.

The Historic Dalma Festival aims to activate and revive the local marine heritage, preserve the national identity, safeguard the Emirati heritage, and introduce the public, including citizens, residents and tourists, to the importance of the marine heritage and the heritage of the Emirati islands. It also seeks to encourage the local island community, support productive families, revitalize the local market of the island, and consolidate the festival's stature as a new tourist and sports destination.