A specially-designed 55,000m² ‘Destination Village’ is being built on the Abu Dhabi Corniche breakwater to host the Volvo Ocean Race yachting fleet and its many thousands of fans expected to descend on the UAE capital when the city welcomes the flotilla early in 2012.
Plans for the ‘Destination Village,’ which will be adjacent to the Heritage Village and overlooking Abu Dhabi’s impressive city skyline, have been unveiled by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which is behind the two-week fleet stop-over and the huge visitor activation programme planned around it.
ADTA has appointed Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) to manage development of the site, which is being designed to serve as a sailing centre once the Volvo Ocean Race fleet sails out of the UAE capital.
TDIC will dredge this section of the Corniche lagoon to allow entry of the 4.5 metre keeled state-of-the-art race yachts and build permanent yacht pontoons.
Infrastructure work is due for completion this September.
Temporary structure build will run until December when the final phase of installing more than 130 Volvo Ocean Race team gear, hospitality and equipment containers will take place.
“This will ensure that our hosting leaves a lasting legacy for the emirate and will also boost our long-term ambitions to be recognised as a compelling winter sailing and watersports destination,” said his excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, ADTA and managing director, TDIC.
The ‘Destination Village’ – which will be around the size of eight football pitches – will open free-of-charge to the public daily from December 30th this year to January 14th, next year.
ADTA – which was last year recognised as the World’s Leading Tourist Board by the prestigious World Travel Awards - anticipates welcoming more than 100,000 visitors through its gates.
The highly interactive village, which will leverage the maritime theme, will be packed with activities and entertainment including exhibitions, shows, simulators, hospitality, game zones, food & beverage outlets and merchandise shops.
ADTA is working with international tour operators, hotels, airlines and other stakeholders to develop compelling New Year-Volvo Ocean Race packages to the emirate.
“It will be the place to be at the beginning of 2012 and will be marked by a sensational New Year’s Eve celebration,” said Al Muhairi.
“It will also allow visitors to connect with our rich maritime heritage as well as the history of the Volvo Ocean Race and to discover more about sailing as a healthy pastime and sport.”
The village will have dedicated team Wet and Dry areas, which will be enhanced by a specialised pontoon design, which will allow fans to get up-close to the magnificent Volvo Open 70 racing yachts and their crews following their testing 5,430 nautical mile journey from Cape Town.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
A special area dedicated to ADTA’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the 11-strong race team which has made history as the first Arab entry in the race, will also be developed.
In a Volvo Ocean Race first, ADTA is erecting the team’s shore base in the heart of the village.
The base will have see-through walls and the sail loft will be open to the public.
An interactive experience centre is being developed so that the public can fully engage with the team and the Volvo Ocean Race.
ADOR’s record-breaking training yacht will be displayed next to the sail loft – another stopover ‘first.’
It will be flanked by a scaffolding cradle so spectators can take a behind-the-scenes guided tour with an ADOR shore team member and see the inner-workings and the testing conditions of life onboard.
ADTA is also planning a stunning entertainment programme for the two-week stop-over including concerts, a welcoming ceremony for the first arriving yacht, in-port races, pro-am races, city receptions and top-class evening events taking place throughout the city. Details of the programme will be released over the coming months.
The authority is progressing a full-scale stopover sailing programme in conjunction with local stakeholders, which will draw on the near 40 years experience of the Volvo Ocean Race. It will boast entry-level sailing academies for those looking to attempt their first tack and jibe all the way through to traditional dhow racing demonstrations.
“This, we hope, will be the start of a renaissance in the uptake of sailing locally,” said Al Muhairi.
“The sea is in our blood and we want to encourage residents, nationals and expatriates alike, to get out onto the water.”
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12 begins in Alicante, Spain, in October 2011 and ends in Galway, Ireland in summer next year. It is a race in which professional athletes, on-board the Volvo Open 70 racing yacht, sail around the world with the prevailing winds.