For the first time ever, the Dubai Creek was closed to yachts, abras and dhows so that dozens of colourful Dragon Boats could splash, paddle and speed their way down the historic waterway during a weekend of thrilling races.

The creek was shut to water traffic opposite Al Seef during competition time on Friday 22 January and Saturday 23 January as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) hosted two days of Dragon Boat races at the Dubai Shopping Festival Market at Al Seef Presented by Al Foah. Part of the fun-filled Waterfront Festival, which ended on 23 January, the races were held in partnership with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the RTA’s Marine Transport Department, Meraas, Redbull and the UAE Dragon Boat Race.

Teams competed in a long distance race of 1.2km and a short distance race of 150m. Made up of multinational crews representing leading Dubai-based companies including DP World, Emirates NBD, Emirates Airline, Dubai Duty Free, Atlantis, the Palm and Heriot Watt University, plus local teams, each Dragon Boat team took part in a wonderful display of fun, fitness, camaraderie and community. The boats featured a mix of unisex and male- and female-only crews.

At a grueling 1.2km, the longer course saw teams first paddle a 600m route along the Al Seef Heritage Area waterfront before turning around to complete the final 600m back to the starting point. Held on Friday from 7.30am to 11.30am, the longer race featured just one boat at a time in the water. Up to 60 teams competed, with races held every 20 minutes.

The Dragon Boat Races Short Course contest, which was held on both Friday and Saturday from 7.30am to 5.20pm, saw teams paddle as fast as they could for 150m from the Al Seef Main Plaza Waterfront. Four boats lined up in the water at a time to race as part of a four-lane course. Up to 60 teams took part, with races held every 20 minutes.

With between eight and 10 crew members, plus a captain steering at the rear and encouraging the crew to keep their paddle strokes in sequence and at speed, Dragon Boat racing is a thrilling spectacle to watch.

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said: “The weekend-long Dragon Boat Races were truly thrilling. These races brought together crews from Dubai’s diverse community, as well as leading companies from a variety of important sectors, for two days of super competition that highlighted the breadth of sporting events held as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival. The Dubai Creek was awash with noise, energy and fun as the crews battled it out in wonderful displays of teamwork and excitement.”

Jason Mackenzie, Race Director, Siren Dragon Boat, said: “The two-day Dubai Creek Dragon Boat Races at Al Seef took place with the support of the Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Shopping Festival and DFRE, RTA and the Marine Transport Department along with Al Seef. They were exciting and action-packed, especially as this was the first time that Dragon Boats had raced at this venue.”

Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of Public Transport Agency, RTA said: “We were proud to be part of the Dubai Creek Dragon Boat Races and to support all of the great teams and organisations that took part over the weekend. This wonderful sporting occasion was perfectly suited to the historic Dubai Creek, which is traditionally used to seeing lots of boats crisscrossing its waterways. The Al Seef creek area was closed to water traffic during the races from 7.30am until 12pm affecting the routes between Al Seef to Baniyas, Baniyas to Dubai Old Souq, Al Sabkha to Al Fahidi and Al Fahidi to Deira Old Souq, meaning all of the crews and boats had the freedom to perform to the very best of their abilities and to try and claim victory for their team.”

On Friday, the Open 1200m race was won by Dubai Diggers 1, followed by Dubai Diggers 2 in second place and Paddle Tribe 2 in third. The Corporate Plate race was won by Royal Dragons with MYPA in second place. The Corporate Cup race was won by Emirates Airlines followed by Kerala Snake Boat Club in second and Wadi Racers in third place.

Saturday saw the Mixed 150m race won by Titans, with Dubai Paddle Club 2 in second and Kraken in third. The Women’s 150m event was won by Titans with Dubai Paddle Club in second and Dolphins in third.

Source: House of Comms

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