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Volvo Ocean Race Destination Village to celebrate Abu Dhabi’s rich history

Abu Dhabi bird of prey
Visitors to this month’s Abu Dhabi Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) Stopover at the free-to-enter Destination Village on the city’s Corniche Breakwater will be able to take a fascinating step back in time to explore the UAE’s rich and varied history in a dedicated ‘Heritage Zone’.

The purpose-built Village – open on weekdays from 12 midday to 9pm and on weekends from 11am to midnight – will be ready from December 12th to welcome the high-tech racing yachts of the VOR fleet, but visitors can also experience their hardy predecessors through various attractions and displays. 

Sailing fans and families can start their VOR experience by walking through the ‘Souk al Mamsha’ (market on the shore). Managed by the Khalifa Fund, the souk will feature 12 stalls, made using traditional palm leaf ‘barasit’ architecture. In seven stalls artisans will demonstrate traditional crafts such as weaving and basket making, while the remaining five will have Emirati cooking demonstrations, with the delicacies also going on sale. Local artists and musicians will perform in a Majlis-style setting.  

As well as learning about traditional ways of life, visitors can discuss UAE culture over coffee with Emirati nationals in a traditional majlis ‘meeting’ tent. Abu Dhabi’s links with the sea will be highlighted alongside the country’s rich maritime heritage which will be brought to life every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with demonstrations of dhow (traditional sailing boat) building, pearl harvesting, fishnet making and crab basket weaving.  

“Village goers will get a hands-on, close-up experience of our culture,” says Mohammed Al Zaabi, from Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), who is hosting the Destination Village. “Just as we have realised with the 36,000 man-hour build of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s yacht, Azzam, the skillsets of modern-day construction reflect the talents and abilities of our ancestry. Abu Dhabi is at one with the sea – and this will be displayed at our Stopover.”  

In addition to the stalls, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club will set up next to the souk, where visitors can meet local falconers, have their photograph taken with the treasured bird of prey, and learn about the traditions of falconry, as well as how modern technology is now being applied to the centuries-old sport. The Club will also stage regular falcon shows in the Village.   

“Hunting in its many forms played an important part in our history and Abu Dhabi Falconer’s Club was set up to preserve and promote the tradition of falconry,” said Sultan Al Mahmood, Abu Dhabi Falconer’s Club. “With so many international visitors coming to Abu Dhabi for the Volvo Ocean Race, the stopover provides an excellent opportunity to show a glimpse of how we lived in the past.”  

Up to 175,000 people are expected to visit the Destination Village on the Corniche Breakwater, which will be open to the public until 3rd January, when the race fleet departs for its next endurance sailing leg to Sanya, China. The Stopover will feature three weeks of sailing action, live concerts, watersports and family entertainment.

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