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SPORT & LEISURE - LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Yas Marina: Abu Dhabi’s new health destination
posted on 21/08/2014

Whether you are a die-hard gym freak, a regular fitness enthusiast or even a watersport junkie or a beauty buff, Yas Marina is the place to be.
With an impressive set of world class facilities offering beauty, sports, health fitness options, the place is fast developing as an ultimate fitness and lifestyle destination in Abu Dhabi.
Vogue Fitness, NuYou Spa, Watercooled and Bounceback are some of the names that lend credibility to that claim.
For instance, Vogue Fitness has launched fully functional outdoor training sessions with adrenaline-fuelled fitness sessions in the surroundings of Yas Marina. If you believe that outdoor workouts are much more fun and push your limits, Vogue Fitness is offering a First Session Free promotion giving residents and tourists an opportunity to try out the sessions and amenities before signing onto a full membership.
The centre's indoor facility also offers a range of services such as sports massages, corporate fitness packages, personal training, kid's fitness, gym membership and a host of other fitness regimes.
And if you are looking for adrenaline-rush water sports, you need not go far. Watercooled, Yas Marina's watersports operator, has an array of activities such as wakeboarding, water skiing, Zapcat thrill rides, Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) yoga, kayaking, as well as weekly water ski and SUP fitness classes. This is in addition to the boot camp that promises a high intensity workout in the promenade area.
Emma Thompson, a British expat and mother of two, said her family loves the facilities at Yas Marina. "We are regulars at the Island. It is a perfect family destination for us because our kids have loads of fun activities, while my husband and I get to focus on fitness training,” said Thompson.
Another great attraction is Bounceback, a fully comprehensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation service.
Physiotherapists here have extensive experience and are trained to provide a variety of treatments such as the McKenzie method, clinical Pilates and acupuncture that treat neck pain, sport injuries, and pre and post natal pains, to name a few. There are also specialists to treat golf-related injuries and help improve swing mechanics.
"It is good news for sportsmen and women in Abu Dhabi,” said Martin White, an Australian cycling enthusiast living in Abu Dhabi.
"It's great to have a physiotherapy centre at the very hub of activities – convenient and very thoughtful,” he added.
Yas Marina has also spruced up its beauty quotient with the introduction of NuYu, a rejuvenating spa, slimming and tanning centre.
NuYou also has a range slimming treatments, from body wraps and wellness classes to body composition, which can be tailor-made to suit individual needs.
Cedric Le Rest, general manager of Yas Marina, said the launch of the new fitness amenities after summer comes at a time when getting back in shape is at the forefront of everybody's mind. "Since the reopening of the Marina in October 2013 with the additional restaurants, facilities and activities, Yas Marina has also become a popular dining and entertainment destination. With this in mind, I'm excited to announce the second phase, which is to position Yas Marina as a truly integrated lifestyle as well as fitness destination,” added Rest. – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/yas-marina-abu-dhabi-s-new-health-destination-1.1374409

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Stage set for second Dubai Airports 9-Ball Championship
posted on 10/06/2014

The second Dubai Airports 9-Ball Championship shall break off later this month with the very best players from across the UAE's aviation sector competing in the preliminary heats and subsequent finals thereafter.
Majed Al Joker, VP Operations, Dubai Airports, will be aiming to go one better than last year's edition having finished as the runner-up to the reigning champion Abdulla Mohammed (10-5) in the inaugural final.
This event, which is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman of Emirates airline and Chief Executive of the Emirates Group, has a total prize fund of Dh72,000 with Dh15,000 going to the winner, Dh10,000 the losing finalist and Dh5,000 the third-placed finisher.
The initial qualifiers are being held at the Flamingo Billiards Club here in the emirate from June 17th, with the semi-finals and final both staged in the unique setting of the arrivals lounge of Terminal Three at Dubai International Airport on June 23rd and 24th respectively.
"Following the massive success that we experienced with the first Dubai Airports 9-Ball Championship, it was quite evident that the event will become an annual affair,” commented the tournament director Meshari Al Bannai, VP HR Dubai Airports.
"What is most pleasing is the surge of interest we have had from all airports and airlines across the UAE, as well as the immense support our partners and sponsors have extended towards the championship. I wish all of the participants a great tournament and all of the viewers an exciting final.”
The UAE Billiards and Snooker Association's (UAEBSA) Tamjid Abdullah said: "Besides the quality of the turnout at the qualifiers, our greatest delight is the fact that the players involved come from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, making this a truly international affair.
"Entries from all airports are of the highest calibre, making the championship a true challenge to the last break.”
Organisers Pro9's Hisham Al Hendi added: "The participation stats from all across the UAE have been overwhelming in terms of both number and quality.
"I would like to thank Dubai Airports, UAEBSA and all of our partners for their support, which has ensured the success of the championship.”
Harmeek Singh, the managing director of presenting partners Plan B — UAE, stated: "It is a true honour to be a part of a national tournament of this standard. The diligence, effort and interest that the Dubai Airports management, along with the UAE Billiards and Snooker Association and Pro9, has taken to create a championship for the UAE's aviation sector is nothing short of commendable.”
World-renowned trickshot artist Florian ‘Venom' Kohler, of France, is scheduled to exhibit some of his eye-catching cue strokes a day before and during the finals of the tournament.
The event is being organised by Pro9, who are the UAEBSA's strategic partners, and – in addition to presenting partners Plan b – Mercedes Benz (Gargash), Valtrans, Inter Emirates Facilities Management, 4All Group Logistics Operations, Emirates Business Machines, Thunder Technical, Azure, Al Aan TV, Flamingo Billiards, Knightshot, Movenpick (Deira) are the championship's official partners. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/sport/inside_sport.asp?xfile=/data/nationsports/2014/June/nationsports_June65.xml§ion=nationsports

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UAE duo Shehab and Joaker to face-off in final
posted on 27/03/2012

The UAE's top two cueists, Mohamed Shehab and Mohammed Al Joaker, have set up an enticing finale for the ENOC UAE Snooker Ranking Circuit's second event after winning their respective semifinal encounters at the Dubai Snooker Club late on Saturday night.
While Shehab breezed through his semi-final against Saif Al Kitbi 4-1, Al Joaker was stretched to the limit by Mohammed Hussain before he registered a hard-fought 4-3 victory.
Al Joaker had to shrug off a spirited challenge by Hussain with the help of a crucial late break of 30 points in the first frame to gain an upper hand.
Hussain levelled the frame score with a 38 in the next, but then saw Al Joaker produce runs of 35 and 62 to gain a 3-1 advantage.
Holding a decent lead and with the match almost in his pocket, Al Joaker, uncharacteristically, missed a simple blue in the fifth to let Hussain off the hook and paid the price by allowing his rival to close the gap at 3-2 and leave the game in a precarious situation.
The low-scoring sixth frame was an engrossing tactical battle which Hussain took on the final black to force the decider.
Much was expected in the seventh frame but Al Joaker succeeded in getting his act together and scored a break of 47 points that carried him to the final.
Shehab made his intentions clear to Al Kitbi from the word go as he orchestrated a captivating break of 82 points to grab the first frame.
A run of 57 followed in the next and Shehab's advantage widened to 2-0.
To his credit though, Al Kitbi succeeded in getting one frame by taking the third, but Shehab produced another break of 68 to win the fourth frame.
Although Al Kitbi did apply brakes to Shehab's scoring spree in the fifth, it was not enough to stop the former Asian Indoor Games gold medallist from marching to a 4-1 triumph.
Shehab and Al Joaker had clashed in the final of the 2011 Ramadan Cup, with the latter winning 4-3.
However, Shehab extracted sweet revenge for that defeat when he got the better of Al Joaker when the duo clashed in the 2011 Arab Games and 2012 West Asian Championships. – Sport 360°

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Dubai Marina Yacht Club to host Dragon Boat Festival
posted on 02/02/2009

Dubai Marina Yacht Club, the newly opened leisure destination for marine enthusiasts, will host a Dragon Boat Festival at the Dubai Marina Canal on February 13, 2009.
The hugely popular Dragon Boat Festival will be the first key event for the club since its launch, and is set to become an annual feature.
The Dragon Boat race will be held from 8am to 6pm along the 3.5 km Dubai Marina canal, in front of the new Clubhouse, with over 800 participants in 40 teams expected to take part.
Dragon Boating puts together 22 team mates on an oar powered boat decorated with carved and painted dragon heads and tails. The tournament will unfold with a series of heats from which teams will be eliminated to eventually reveal the finalists.
Physically and mentally challenging, dragon boat racing requires a paddler's synchronized precision and is a perfect team building activity. The sport is believed to have started 2,500 years ago in China with many popular myths of folklore surrounding its origin.
Mr. Steve Stiglbauer, General Manager, Dubai Marina Yacht Club, said: "Dragon Boat racing has become one of the most popular sports in the Near and Far East, and Dubai Marina Canal is a perfect venue to host the event. By hosting a dragon boat race as our inaugural event, we are placing focus on water events that bring people together." He added: "Teams from around the UAE can participate in this inaugural event, which will provide a fulfilling day of good exercise, camaraderie and sportsmanship. The Dragon Boat Festival will provide the very best of fun and excitement for participants and observers and will be a fascinating spectacle to enjoy for the canal's residents and visitors." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Narrow victory for desert race team
posted on 18/12/2008

After a gruelling six-day journey across Abu Dhabi emirate, a tired but elated Richard Ussher led a team to the narrowest of victories in the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge for the second consecutive year.
Team Desert Islands headed the field from start to finish but their lead was never more than a few minutes and at the beginning of the final day was a scant 63 seconds over the team skippered by his 2007 teammate, Gordon Walker.
Ussher's team extended their advantage to four minutes after the biking, running and rope-work section on Jebel Hafeet yesterday then faced an anxious 27km final mountain bike leg to Jahili Fort in Al Ain, knowing they could lose the race if they crashed.
"We almost rode our own race, out to the side of the bunch and trying to stay out of trouble,” he said.
"Things can get pretty ugly pretty quickly in the bunch and there were a couple of close calls.”
Ussher and his wife, Elina, won the inaugural Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge with Walker last year but faced far tougher competition this year, not least from Team Nike, the pre-race favourites, who finished fifth.
"It's great to come back and defend the title. The team from last year came first and second,” Ussher said.
"I didn't think it was one thing that got us through. We were the most consistent team. The pace was much faster and you had to strategise a lot more and do more preparation.
"We all had situations where people weren't feeling very good, particularly on the desert section. A lot of the time, we felt the race was a little out of our control but we just really stayed focused.
"Gordon put together a super team. They had their issues too and if they had a little more luck roll their way, it could have been them.”
The Usshers had to pay their own way to compete in last year's challenge and would have found themselves significantly out of pocket if they had failed to finish near the top. Even after winning the world's highest-paying adventure race last year, the couple only finished paying off debts from the 2007 event last month.
Their half of the US$40,000 prize money, shared with team members Jarad Kholar and Jay Henry, will be used to "pay off a bit of the mortgage” on their home in New Zealand. He said he hoped to defend his title again next year but that depended on finding sponsorship.
Walker, of Team New Zealand, said failure to find a major sponsor had made taking part this year expensive but the $25,000 second prize would recoup their costs.
"It was definitely a stronger field. We had a couple of things that didn't go the best – but that's just racing. We had the horsepower but we just didn't adapt to our situation,” he said.
The pace along a 100km-plus run through the dunes of the Empty Quarter near Liwa was a dramatic change from 2007, with the average speed of the leading teams up from 5kmh to 7kmh.
Matthew Boucher, who managed the race for the Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority, said the intention for the 2009 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge was to be even bigger and better.
"We'll aim to have 50 teams and we'll also aim to have an entirely Emirati team,” he said.
The race this year had included a mountain biking leg on the wildlife preserve of Sir Bani Yas Island, the former private island of Sheikh Zayed, the late founder of the nation, and he said they were already discussing what to introduce to the race next year. – The National

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Competitors contend with sand gazelles
posted on 14/12/2008

Competitors in the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge already knew they would have to cope with the rigours of the desert and its harsh terrain.
But the mountain biking section through the wildlife preserve on Sir Bani Yas Island, added to the race for its second year, presented a new and unexpected challenge.
After teams finished a 45.5km circuit around the island, stories abounded of encounters with the island's estimated 5,000 sand gazelles.
Andy Wilson, from the British team Sleepmonster, said his team came close to hitting a couple. "I didn't fancy hitting a gazelle. In Britain I hit a deer once at 30mph and I didn't fancy doing that here. These ones have horns.”
Members of Swiss team, ADCO Faszinatour came in bruised and bleeding, but had not fallen victim to a brush with wildlife, only a failed attempt to get a tow from a faster teammate.
Desert Islands finished the mountain biking leg within a few seconds of team Nike but five minutes ahead of the third placed group, Team New Zealand. Richard Ussher, the leader of Desert Islands, said that his team and the Nike team had helped each other to establish a lead on the rest of the pack.
"We decided to work together a bit and put as much of a gap as we could on the other teams,” he said.
This meant more time to rest before the 33km kayaking section from Sir Bani Yas Island to Kurkum Island, where the competitors spent last night to prepare for another 82km kayaking leg to the mainland today. "It's a good start and we're looking forward to being on the water,” Ussher said.
Apart from the top teams, others were suffering from the rigours of the race. Rachel Clough, a physiotherapist from New Zealand, only became involved in the race six weeks ago. "I'd heard about the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge earlier in the year when I treated a girl who'd done it last year,” she said.
"When they said they needed someone I stepped in. It's tough but it's awesome being here.” – The National

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Take sport to an extreme
posted on 10/11/2008

Thrill seekers will converge on Abu Dhabi this weekend for the country's first extreme sport festival, where visitors can try such sports as zorbing, wakeboarding and Chinese dragon-boat racing.
Organisers expect as many as 15,000 people to attend Adrenaline Sports Live, which is being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from Thursday until Saturday. Visitors can try 15 action sports and watch wakeboarding and skateboarding competitions.
The main hall of the exhibition centre will be transformed with climbing walls, skateboard ramps and zip lines, and visitors will be able to abseil from one floor to another. Zorbing, in which people are strapped to the inside of a giant transparent plastic sphere which is rolled down a slope, will be available on a specially constructed concourse.
Blokarting, a cross between sailing and go-karting in which riders zip along at speeds up to 90kph, is among the activities visitors can try outside.
The whole idea is just to give people a try and if they like it they can sign up for more with one of the exhibitors,” said Cressida Evans, marketing manager for CMPi UAE, which is organising the event.
Water sports will be offered in the creek near the exhibition centre, including wakeboarding, windsurfing and kayaking. Visitors who do not want to get their toes wet can watch professionals compete in heats of the UAE wakeboarding championship. Buses will run from the exhibition centre to the creek.
The 15 trial sports will be available to visitors – first come, first served – over the three days and are included in the price of the festival ticket.
The festival will also bring the ancient tradition of Chinese dragon-boat racing to the Emirates for the first time as university, school and corporate teams battle on the water for Abu Dhabi's first National Dragon Boating Cup. Teams of up to 20 people paddle in unison, to the beat of an on-board drummer. More than 40 teams have registered for the competition.
A US-based skateboarding team will perform stunts for an hour each day. Johnny Layton, a Californian skater known as J-Lay, admired for his board control, and Chris Pfanner, an Austrian professional, are among the team's members.
An amateur contest featuring some of the best street skaters in the Arab world will be held on Friday and Saturday. Fifty skaters will compete in junior and senior categories to win a trip to skateboard camp in the US.
Tickets to the event will also allow attendees access to the Barbican Turbo festival, the first custom car meet in the region, which is running simultaneously at the exhibition centre.
Team Orange, one of world's top drifting teams whose driving displays have featured in films such as The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, will demonstrate their skills. Drifting is a technique in which drivers intentionally skid their rear tyres through turns at high speeds and keep their cars under control. – The National


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Dubai set to be top Eid destination
posted on 14/09/2008

Dubai is set to become the region's premier destination for Eid celebrations, announced Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group and Chairman of the Dubai Shopping Festival Office (DSFO) Supreme Committee at the launch of a new initiative that will further strengthen the city's position as the leisure, tourism and cultural hub of the region.
"Eid in Dubai is another pillar initiative that will further support our relentless efforts towards achieving the larger aim of positioning Dubai as a year-round premier tourist destination, thus adding another important step in our path to reach the 15 million mark of tourists in Dubai by the year 2015," he said.
"It is also designed to augment the buoyant and unique atmosphere created in Dubai during celebrations marking Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha," he said.
"Dubai has firmly acquired its reputation as a great success story among its peers of leading cities around the world in terms of economy boom, legendary landmarks, state-of-art infrastructure and prosperous civility. Yet the social and cultural side of the city is nothing short of an achievement on itself, with more than 200 nationalities living together and celebrating their festivities together in peace and harmony," Sheikh Ahmed said.
"Eid in Dubai will be another bond that brings people in Dubai together amid true Islamic values and traditions while celebrating both Eids," he added.
The new concept will be eagerly welcomed by the different business sectors in the emirate, including the retail and hospitality sectors, and will certainly enhance their contributions to the city's GDP, said Sheikh Ahmed.
On her part, Laila Suhail, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Shopping Festival said "Eid in Dubai" is a first-of-its-kind initiative that would complement all the other successful initiatives launched by the Government of Dubai, and will be a valuable addition to the calendar of festive events hosted by Dubai throughout the year.
"It's all about showing the world Dubai's unique way of celebrating Eid," she said. "We will be highlighting some of the true traditions of celebrating Eid in addition to presenting a comprehensive festivities programme to attract families locally and regionally," she added.
"Eidakom Mubarak, which is wishing a blessed Eid for everyone, will be used widely in the service and hospitality sectors for welcoming all visitors to further spread the Eid spirit among all."
"Though the official 'Eid in Dubai' event will commence with the sighting of the Shawwal crescent, which marks the first day of Eid Al Fitr, the latter half of Ramadan will witness Eid promotional offers in shopping malls and different retail stores, notably gold and jewellery outlets, which will be a huge attraction for all families that want to shop for Eid," Suhail said. "Eid shopping is also a family event and we aim to make it more fun for them."
"Preparations for 'Eid in Dubai' are in its final stages and we are confident of delivering an event that will relate to residents and visitors in Dubai, while spreading the true values of Eid at the same time," said Suhail.
"Eid in Dubai" is being organised with National Bonds as a founder sponsor, in addition to ARY Jewellery, Dubai Festival City, Emirates and Dubai World Trade Centre as key sponsors, and in association with Dubai Shopping Malls Group and Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group. – Emirates Business

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UAE athletes put up an impressive display
posted on 15/12/2006

Doha The 15th Asian Games end tonight with the closing ceremony at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha.

China, as usual, have dominated the Games with 304 medals (160 gold, 81 silver and 63 bronze) until last evening.

Athletes will compete for medals until this afternoon. UAE have done well in the Asian Games. They won 10 medals, three gold, four silver and three bronze medals. The UAE karate men team failed to win a medal in the karate events held on Wednesday. The only medal won in the Asian Games karate for UAE was the silver medal won by Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the + 60kg category.

Mansour Aziz Ahmad of UAE lost to Rustam Tashnazarov of Uzbekistan in the kumite 70kg category pre-quarterfinals held at Qatar club indoor sports hall. Mohammad Al Mushrakh lost to Sang Ho Park from Korea in the kumite 60kg quarterfinals.

Fakhr Eddine Abdul Majid lost to Askar Baitleuov of Kazakhstan. Hussain Samir Juma lost to Talat Khalil of Jordan in the 75 kg category.

In cycling Badr Ali Shambih finished in the eighth place in the Men's track Keirin first round repechage.

In chess, UAE drew with Japan in the teams classical Swiss eighth round held on Wednesday.

UAE Grand Master Talib Mussa beat Nanjo Ryosuke of Japan but Abdullah Hasan Al Hammadi lost to Japan's Shinya Kojima. UAE's Noora Mohammad Saleh however drew with Emiko Nakagawa.

India, the gold medallists, maintained their top place with a win over Indonesia 2.5 - 0.5 point. India have 21 points and even if they lose in the ninth and last round, they will still be champions. Gulf News
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Grab your chance to see Abu Dhabi from the skies
posted on 14/03/2006

For the first time this week, Microlight flights are being offered in Abu Dhabi to those who want to get a very special look at the UAE capital. And after landing following my airborne adventure it was clear there is no finer way to look at the city.

The scene at the edge of Port Zayed was one of anticipation when Captain Laszlo Toth, who is an ex-military pilot, showed me the five microlight planes, one of which would be giving me a breathtaking view of Abu Dhabi.

My pilot Vincent Ferinc strapped me up, put a helmet on me and we were ready to go. The noise from the engine drowned out the heavy beating of my heart. The microlight aircraft, which has a maximum speed of 120kph, raced along the runway parallel to the water and then the air caught under the wings and we were up and away.

We took a right-hand turn towards the huge UAE flag on the Corniche with Emirates Palace in the distance and the view was magnificent, with the sea below and no obstacles to impair the sight. The journey itself was smooth and Vincent was able to move at different speeds and virtually hover, allowing me to take in all the breathtaking scenes below.

Vincent then turned the plane left by 180 degrees and we moved parallel to the Corniche towering above Abu Dhabi's fine collection of skyscrapers.

The flights, which are provided by Hungarian firm Microlight Company, cost Dh200 for a 10 minute ride and give spectacular views of Abu Dhabi. They were brought to Abu Dhabi by the Abu Dhabi tourist board and authorities after appearing at the Al Ain Airshow in January. Colonel Mohammed bin Barrack said the microlights had captured the public's imagination with many wanting to experience the flights themselves.

"Because of the huge numbers of people wanting to enjoy the unique flying experience the Abu Dhabi authorities had promised they would arrange it,” he added. "We are promoting Abu Dhabi to the people and a fantastic opportunity to see the beautiful Corniche from the sky.” The flights will run until the end of the month from 8am until midnight with a special night show with lasers each day. For more information, contact Captain Laszlo Toth on 050 212 0155. (Emirates Today)

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Red Bull Air Race 2006 to kick off on March
posted on 03/02/2006

Red Bull World Series Air Race 2006 will begin here on March 17 under the auspices of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, ADTA, and participation of 11 pilots, following entry of two more pilots, who took part in last year's competition. This year Red Bull Air Race will include ten rounds in ten various cities, following addition of three new rounds. Red Bull Air Race 2005 on Abu Dhabi Corniche had witnessed great attendance by fans, It was the first of its kind to be held in the Middle East region. All the participants will be competing in a round showing their skills with the best timing and then will be racing for the super final, in a time trial event. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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Dune bashing in Dubai
posted on 03/02/2006

Adventure seekers can have a brush with some real speed at Gate No. 4 of the Global Village.

This is where you are greeted by a motorcycle area where you can experience the freedom of riding a motorcycle. You can choose from the various models on display depending on your age, height and weight. These bikes are four-wheelers with a 50cc engine and are very popular for dune bashing. For those who are not too keen on going off-road, the special sandy tracks provide excellent practice area.

The area is absolutely safe and even novices who have never ridden before can try their hand at desert scooting. There are smaller vehicles for children too. Also available is an amphibian car, which accommodates six people at a time. This eight-wheeled vehicle can be driven on sand as well as in a water pool provided in the area. The ride costs Dh5 per person while the quad bikes are available for Dh5 per child and Dh10 per adult.

This is the second time that this facility has been provided for Global Village visitors. The area is turning out to be popular with crowds as people across all ages and different nationalities are coming here to experience these thrilling rides.

A new introduction to the riding thrill is the Segway Human Transporter, also known as the personal assistive mobility device, the two-wheeler introduced in the UAE last year. The riding area is just in front of the India Pavilion and costs Dh15 for 10 laps. Riders ? who must be over 12 years of age and weigh at least 40 kg, are given initial training but kids need to be escorted by parents or adults.

A 20-minute ride is all you need to master this self-balancing scooter which has sensors to move it backwards and forwards. Those who have experienced it feel that riding the Segway is like wearing a magic sneaker. (The Gulf News)

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Teams get ready to lift off this autumn in fun flying contest
posted on 09/07/2005

Thirty-six teams will compete in the construction phase of the Flying Day Red Bull Flugtag competition that will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in November. The Red Bull Flugtag has entered its second phase that of construction in which the teams have until October 31 to turn their designs into flying machines.

The take-off takes place at the Dubai Creek Park on November 25 at 2pm and the machines will fly into the sky before plunging into the water. Innovation, creativity, execution and flying skills were the criteria adopted by the Ground Control Committee to choose the 36 qualifying teams. The application phase lasted two months, during which 373 applications were received.

The committee made sure each team consists of five members the pilot and four ground crew.
It was also ensured that all flying machines do not exceed 200kg in weight. No auxiliary lifting device, power source or stored energy such as batteries or rocket fuel may be used during the competition.

All flying machines must be launched from a six-metre-high runway using only human power.

The selection was also made according to the uniqueness of the idea and the object of the team's inspiration. Some flying machine designs were highly technical, with a clear display of engineering skills in respect for the principles of aviation physics.

Others were creative and imaginative in the designs, colour mixes and the reproduction of the theme that they have chosen to work with. The participants, except for one team from Kuwait and another from Saudi Arabia, are all UAE residents. They are of various nationalities, backgrounds, ages and professions. The take-off takes place at the Dubai Creek Park on November 25 at 2pm and the machines will fly into the sky before plunging into the water. (The Khaleej Times)

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Big thrills from mini flying machines in RAK
posted on 19/06/2004

Hundreds of Ras Al Khaimah residents gather twice a week to see the local aerial show, organised by national youths, on the creek near the Cultural Centre. A group of 12 nationals stage remote-controlled aerial shows on Thursdays and Fridays that are attracting large numbers of spectators. The group has submitted an application to the UAE Civil Aviation Authority for a licence to hold their events under the auspices of the Al Jazera Flying Club. The group said they hope to receive the licence soon and then they will be prepared to offer lessons.

Once the club is recognised by UAE authorities, it will have a chance to represent the UAE in international competitions. The members said they will also take their show to other emirates. Sheikh Montaser bin Khalid Al Qasimi, a club member, said the group is comprised of talented pilots who have been flying remote-controlled aircraft for 10 years. Each member, he said, owns more than one aircraft.

Mohammed Abdullah, an instructor and the club's spokesman, said the models that are used closely resemble the original. This hobby, however, is not cheap. Aircrafts used during the Ras Al Khaimah shows can cost Dh5,000. The ones used during international shows cost anywhere from Dh7,000 to Dh150,000. In addition, many owners spend a significant amount of money on maintenance.

Ahmed Mohammed Rashid, another club member, said the aircrafts can climb quite high, but the pilots usually keep them within sight so spectators can see the aerial acrobatics being performed. (The Gulf News)

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First phase of beach safety study completed
posted on 07/06/2004

Study that seeks to implement global best practices in beach safety management and to improve Dubai's beautiful and popular beaches. The preliminary study has been successfully undertaken and the municipality is currently evaluating its findings before the next phase of the study proceeds. The preliminary study has been successfully undertaken and the municipality is currently evaluating its findings before the next phase of the study proceeds.

This was announced by Engr. Khalid Mohammed Al Zahid, Head of the Coastal Management Section at the General Projects Department of the municipality. He added that the preliminary study report is an important milestone in Dubai's efforts to provide maximum safety at the emirate's beaches.

The Preliminary Study Report was initiated by the Dubai Municipality's General Projects Department and was undertaken in cooperation with the Parks and Horticulture Department, Environment Department, Legal Affairs Department, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing Department and Dubai Police. Private hotel operators and ocean user groups have also provided very valuable input into the Preliminary Study Report, he noted.

Engr. Khalid Mohammed Al Zahid noted that the importance of Dubai's beaches to its residents and visitors was made very clear in the Preliminary Study Report. "The total number of people visiting the Al Mamzar Beach Park, Jumeirah Beach Park, and the Jumierah Open Beach during the five-year period between 1998 and 2002 was 7.9 million," said Mr Al Zahed. "With the resident population projected to grow by around 60,000 people per year in the near future and an annual six million tourists are expected to arrive in Dubai by 2010, it is even more important to provide a safe coastal environment," he added. (The Khaleej Times)


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Skydivers weave patterns as they set records
posted on 27/03/2004

All eyes were turned skywards yesterday as a 121-strong troupe of skydivers dropped in on Umm Al Qaiwain - smashing a trio of records in the process. Out of a clear blue sky, the German divers plunged 18,000 feet holding hands in an eight-base formation with a star base in the centre.

In the process, they established new German, European and Middle East records for the number of divers in the formation. The previous record involved 80 skydivers jumping in a similar formation in Hoexter, Germany, in 1999. The event was significant for the UAE as it was the first time that such a feat was performed from the UAQ Aero Club, the only civilian drop zone in the Middle East. The team, who arrived in the UAE just a few days ago jumped with oxygen from the AN-12 aircraft of British Gulf International Airlines.

It is a tough record to establish. When the skydivers dive, they are in a free fall at 200km per hour. So there is a difference of at least 400 metres between the first and last diver. The one who is last has to accelerate and come to the level of the first diver so that the formation can be made. Even if one diver fails to link up to the formation, the attempt fails. (The Gulf News)

On membership, the report said the number of shareholders in all the cooperative societies throughout the country by the end of last year stood at 25,206,000, an increase of 1,985 shareholders which represents 8.45 per cent against the number in 2002. The capital also rose to Dh362 million by the end of 2003, an increase of Dh23 million, which represents a 7 per cent rise against the 2002 figure. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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Renovated Mamzar beach gets new look
posted on 27/01/2004

More tourists and residents will now be able to enjoy the beaches at the Al Mamzar Beach Park, where Dubai Municipality has, in a bid to provide improved comfort and safety for beach-goers, recently completed the first stage of revamping four beaches and part of the lagoon beach.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Khalid Al Zahed, Head of the Marine Unit at the General Projects Department of the municipality, noted that the beaches were nourished with high quality sand and also cleared of the rocks and stones scattered on the beach face. The work also involved minimising the steep slope of two beaches to make them safer for beach-goers.

The project, he said, forms part of the ongoing maintenance and protection works for beaches undertaken by the Marine Unit. The high quality beach sand used for the nourishment operation was cost-effectively sourced from a new project excavation site in the vicinity of Jebel Ali, which was stockpiled on the site as a beach reserve under the strict provisions of the Decree,' he said. (The Khaleej Times)


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Designer hot springs in making
posted on 24/01/2004

Visitors and health buffs will soon be able to wash away their aches in specially designed hot springs of Al Ain. Separate health bath facilities for males and females are under construction at Mubazzarah, an emerging picnic spot in the city undergoing a swift development. The project is part of a master plan designed to make Al Ain an international tourist centre.

The project includes, apart from beautification project, a spring resort, mineral spring pools, a big lake, clubhouse and golf course, visitors' centres, planetarium, cableway and conference centre. Once complete, the one-stop green tourist resort is expected to lure tourists from the Gulf region as well as from around the world. The hot spring resort is one of the most exciting addition to the Garden City. Construction work is going on round-the-clock on the different facilities, including landscaping and greening of the area.

Mubazzarah, in the foothills of the country's highest mountain Jebel Hafit, comes under Al Ain Municipality and Town Planning Department and it has been under the focus of Al Ain Economic Development and Tourism Authority for several years. Both the authority and the municipality want to develop the area into a complete tourist resort, officials said. The area is famous for its hot springs.

Interestingly, according to the authority, a multi-million dirham project is also being implemented for developing a resort and a golf club with the latest facilities in Mubazzarah. The golf club will have an 18-hole course and a nine-hole short course along with a media centre surrounded by a lush green belt. (The Gulf News)

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Leisure activities to get boost at new Ajman dhow harbour
posted on 25/10/2003

Ajman is gearing up to boost its leisure and entertainment industries with the establishment of a docking harbour for dhows. The new facility is expected to cater to the dhows currently docking at the existing Ajman port. The new facility was established after activity in the traditional handicraft trade witnessed a huge growth, said an official of the Ajman Ports and Customs. "As dhow operations have expanded in the emirate and the port harbour is already congested, we decided to set up the docking facility," explained Hameed Ibrahim, director of the Emirates Ports Services.

Work on the facility started in April and the harbour was ready to receive larger dhows by August this year. The docking harbour extends some 300 metres from the Ports and Customs Authority facility towards the fishing harbour. It can currently accommodate up to seven large dhows. The docking facility will take over the present fishing harbour, which will be moved inside the port. This will provide space for up to 40 large dhows in future. It is eventually expected to pave the way for leisure cruise activities. The vast area alongside the harbour has been paved to accommodate goods for landing and loading purposes.

A customs and immigration office has also been set up to facilitate, inspect and clear transactions. The Emirates Ports Services Company, which is presently running the Ajman Ports and Customs Authority, will also administer the newly added marine service.

The dhow operations facility is expected to constitute an essential part of the Ports and Customs Authority with an independent management. Earlier, these dhows used the facilities at the Ports and Customs Authority. With the harbour facilities now being set up for them, they will use their own staff and workers. (The Gulf News)

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Dubai Sky raiders
posted on 27/09/2003

Salah Mohammed Algaz, a soft-spoken native of Mamzar, Dubai, has extraordinary skills. But his special genius remains known only to a close circle of friends. Not that it bothers Salah. He's content to pursue his passion quietly, without the tumult of media glare.

Every Friday afternoon - and whenever else the mood seizes him - Salah takes out the paraphernalia of his passion and gingerly puts it at the back of his red Range Rover. The 32-year-old businessman then drives down to Nad Al Sheba grounds, next to the camel racecourse. "I may have done this thousands of times but every time I do it, I'm filled with a school-boy thrill," he says.

At the grounds, as he steps out of the car, affectionate shouts of "Marhaba, Kaifal haal?" greet him. Salah waves to his friends and, as is his habit, looks up at the blue expanse of the sky. A smile breaks out on his face - the smile of a man who revels in doing what he loves most - and he hurries to join his friends.

Salah is the acknowledged ace radio-controlled (RC) flier among the motley group of Dubai's 100-odd regular RC buffs who spend their weekends flying electronically-operated mini-replicas of real aircraft. It is a merry mιlange of nationals and expatriates bound together by a common passion that transcends cultural and age barriers.

The youngest flier is a 14-year-old national and the oldest one is a retired senior national whose four grown-up sons sometimes join him on the flying field.

While the rest of the folks in the UAE are savouring their myriad precious Friday activities - picnics, outings, movies or lazing around in cosy air-conditioned comfort, these die-hard RC lovers head for the sweltering heat, howling winds and dust-laden tracts of an open-air ground.

When Salah began in 1998, only a handful of expats and nationals were honing their RC flying skills in Dubai. Today, that number has swelled to over 100. Though expats - Australians, Britons, Austrians, Germans, Egyptians, Lebanese, Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians - still comprise a sizable number of fliers, nationals have taken up RC flying in a big way, far outnumbering the expats. Today, Dubai has four shops supplying RC flying equipment a sure indication that more and more people are opting for the outdoor aerobatic thrills.

RC flying in the new millennium, however, has become much easier and more economical than years ago. Radio equipment is extremely reliable, it is On the Hatta Road, next to Nad Al Sheba, every once in a while a cruising Toyota or BMW slows down and the occupant peers out, looking at the amazing spectacle of grown men in their Friday casuals on a wind-swept ground, with transmitters in hands, playing with what look like toys wheezing through the air. The onlooker's curiosity, perhaps, mirrors a widespread misconception about RC flying. "Many people think RC flying is child's play - like a toy or kite-flying," bemoans 30-year-old Abdulnasser Al Owais of Sharjah, whose forte is helicopter flying.

While outsiders may view RC flying, at best, as a fun way to spend a couple of hours, most RC aficionados aver that what looks like a mere pastime, has the potential to transform your life, bringing out or imbuing in you qualities you never suspected you had.

Mohammed Abdullah Hussain, 14, Dubai's youngest RC flier who started last year and has shown remarkable talent, says, "When you are flying, all your senses work in top gear, which gives a tremendous feeling," he claims. RC flying has inculcated in him the habit of saving money - to buy more aircraft, and of spending more time in his uncle's workshop, tinkering with the planes and trying out new combinations. (The Gulf News)




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New Dubai Desert Extreme Skate Park promises the thrill of inline skating, skateboarding and BMX biking
posted on 26/08/2003

They were oblivious to the hot August weather. Unfazed by falls or bruises. Excitement writ large on their faces, they rushed down steep ramps, jumped over boxes of various shapes and sizes and did daring flips and turns on their skateboards, roller blades and BMX bikes. And when they fell, they just dusted themselves and got right back on top of the ramp. The youngsters were thoroughly enjoying the newly opened Dubai Desert Extreme Skate Park at the Wonderland Theme and Water Park in Dubai.

"Extreme sports like inline skating, skateboarding and BMX biking are the latest trends all over the world. These sports are safe, exciting and great for fitness. "They also help youngsters to develop balance, focus and concentration – skills that will help them in other areas of life as well. But until now, extreme sports enthusiasts in the UAE had to practise on the streets, which is dangerous and not so much fun. This Skate Park fulfils a long-felt need and is the first professionally custom-built permanent Skate Park in the Middle East," said Vali Csongor, operations manager of the Wonderland Theme and Water Park.

The Skate Park opened to the public on August 18 as part of the DSS Adventure Surprises Week organised by the Dubai Police Department. It is the first phase of a large extreme sports area to be developed adjacent to the Water Park at Wonderland. With a variety of ramps, some up to 11 feet in height, quarter pipes, rails of varying challenge levels and lots of fun boxes, the Skate Park, spread over 1,500 square metres, offers something to enthusiasts with all levels of proficiency.

"As our visitors get more proficient, we will put in a half pipe, which is more challenging. Also on the cards are mini ramps and fun boxes for younger children and a training area for beginners. "We plan to hold the first Dubai Desert Extreme Amateur Championship in September and an international tournament in October. We will also invite international experts to hold clinics here," said Shahin Khodjasteh, co- partner of Dubai Desert Extreme, UAE representatives of German firm G-Ramps that designed and built the Skate Park. (The Gulf News)

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'Dubai - shopping capital of Mideast'
posted on 07/06/2003

Almost 30 per cent of Dubai's total tourist intake originates from exhibitions and events that are increasingly attracting visitors to the emirate. By offering the world's best brands at the best prices, Dubai has established itself as the shopping capital of the Middle East, while the UAE in general, has emerged as the events and exhibitions hub of the region, noted a report published in the UAE Yearbook, 2003.

The report drew particular reference to the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) that is a major highlight in the calendar of events. DSF 2002 registered a growth figure of five per cent, taking the total number of shoppers to 2.68 million, offering them bargains, attractive raffle prizes and carnival atmosphere. The official web site of DSF, http://www.mydsf.com, recorded over 25 million hits during 2002.

The Global Village remained the most popular and colourful venue of DSF 2002, offering something for every member of the family, from shopping rides and stage shows to food courts. It attracted in excess of 2.5 million visitors over the 31 days of the event. The dates of DSF 2003 which sported the theme 'one world, one family, one festival', were advanced because research indicated that families liked to stay in Dubai for longer periods during the festival.

In another record-breaking year, Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS 2002) posted an 18 per cent rise in the number of visitors, crossing the 1.3 million mark, while total spending rose 19 per cent from Dh118 million in 2001 to Dh1.3 billion in 2002. Mall traffic registered a sharp increase of 26 per cent to 7.56 million while total spending at the malls was worth Dh1.15 billion, a rise of 14.2 per cent. Modhesh Fun City attracted 259,000 visitors, including 127,000 children, during the 72-day extravaganza, and the festival's mascot Modhesh has become a household name and one of the most popular cartoon characters among children in the Gulf region.

Dubai will be in high gear again this year, which will host the 58th board meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in September. The high-profile event will focus global media and government attention on the UAE and present yet another opportunity to showcase its attractions. The UAE was selected for its highly developed transportation and logistics infrastructure, growing importance as a financial hub and its established position as the Crossroads for the New Global Economy, the report added. (The Khaleej Times)

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Coastal construction shrinks beach
posted on 06/06/2003

People enjoy their time out at Al Ras Al Akhdar. ©Gulf News
Being surrounded by the azure Gulf waters often gives the impression that Abu Dhabi city is a summer resort ringed by palm trees and sandy beaches crowded with swimmers and revellers most of the time. But that is quickly dissipated by the fact that only a tiny strip of beach is all that is left for the swimmers.

Apart from costly and restricted private beaches of the hotels, Abu Dhabi's beach lovers are now crammed on a beach not exceeding 500 metres in length. Most beaches here have given way to construction work.

Al Ras Al Akhdar, just next to the ladies beach, attracts thousands of Abu Dhabi residents during the hot summer days as they have nowhere else to go. It is the only open, free beach left in the UAE's island capital since swimming at hotel beaches is either costly or restricted to members.

The 6.5km Corniche on the western flank of the city is being renovated and expanded to accommodate more cars and set up recreational sites. But this project has deprived swimmers of their favourite palm-dotted beach that once was the Corniche's hallmark as the trees have been razed and the sand replaced with concrete. Stretching westwards into the breakwater, another busy workshop of construction work is taking place and beach revellers who used to dive in that quiet place, are no longer seen. The project includes a beach resort island but is expected to attract only the rich.

For many people, Ras Al Akhdar has started to give them a headache, especially on weekend days, when thousands flock to that beach and struggle to park their cars. Ras Al Akhdar is more than 10km from the city centre and some swimmers have to wait under the sun for a long time to get a taxi back home on the busy weekend days. The strip in that area was much bigger but part of it had been cordoned off and buried to give way to the construction of the Palace Hotel, which is now in its final stage and is set to be one of the biggest hotels in the region.

But Ras Al Akhdar is still an enjoyable place as its water is clean and calm and the beach is shaded by scores of trees that cool down the sand and ease the smothering summer heat and humidity. During the weekend, the beach appears like a cosmopolitan resort island as it attracts several nationalities and different ages.

Watching them on a busy weekend day, one sees joy on their faces although they have been repeatedly squeezed into that small beach strip in the island capital. Amidst such joyous moments, they appear oblivious of such a fact and seemingly do not want to spoil those moments with the thought that their last beach will also disappear. (The Gulf News)

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Motor-scooters a growing craze
posted on 02/06/2003

The latest craze to hit the UAE is the motor-scooter. Many people who are too lazy to pedal a bicycle are buying one. The temptation to go in for one are many, for they are considered cost-effective, low on pollution, easy to maintain and quite funky. They help to beat heavy traffic and are safe and easy to recharge. Some models come with a price tag of less than Dh500.

These vehicles are apparently being used without licenses from the Traffic Department. Gulf News spoke to Brigadier Abdul Rahman Rafie, Director of the Dubai Traffic Department, who said nobody has approached them so far to register the scooters.

However, he felt that these two-wheelers do not need to be licensed since they do not meet the requirements. They travel at speeds under 35kph, which is below the regulation speed for motorbikes. Also their small size and the fact that users cannot travel long distances on them make them unlikely candidates for licensing. "I think these vehicles are closer to a bicycle than a motorbike from the regulation point of view", he said.

Brig Al Rafie said that he has noticed that the scooters are immensely popular with traders in the Deira area. It is easier to run errands on these two-wheelers as the lanes there are very narrow. Also, they allow users to avoid traffic snarls. Many of these scooters are electric, using batteries which are easy to recharge. Some of the batteries take only two to six hours to recharge and can be detached from the scooter and plugged into the wall.

Brig Al Rafie advised users to follow a few simple safety rules to avoid injuries when using the scooters. He urged them to learn how to handle the scooters and educate themselves on basic traffic skills. He advised them not to make sudden, unexpected manoeuvres and to always wear a helmet. He also said that those who use the scooters at night should get a good headlight and a taillight and/or a large rear reflector. (The Gulf News)







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Sharjah offers room for more entrants
posted on 18/05/2003

Three shopping complexes that have been operating in Sharjah for some time now with varying degrees of success, are Al Fardan Centre, generally recognised as the one that first introduced Sharjah residents to the mall culture; Al Taawun Mall in the fast-developing Mamzar area; and The Gold Centre, set slap-bang in the middle of the city, and which has carved out a distinctive niche for itself. With other malls and upmarket retail complexes now jousting for visibility on the Sharjah skyline - which, however, still offers room for more entrants - these first generation of malls are either in the process or have recently implemented significant make overs, as they, too, seek to retain their place in the sun.

Of the three, Al Taawun Mall perhaps is the one complex that has yet to fully live up to its initial potential, as the mall officials themselves agree. They also suggest its time may have come now. "We have started to attract international brands, such as Red Earth and A to Z, and Damas should also be opening their outlet shortly," pointed out Shadi Al Awad of the mall management. He attributed the current upswing in the mall's fortunes to two factors: a shift in marketing strategy, and major changes in the mall itself.

This modestly-sized mall occupying, however, a great location on the Buhairah Corniche, fared very well in the first few years but appeared to take a back seat with the simultaneous development of a flyover that today partly obscures the property, and the mushroom growth of other modern shopping complexes throughout the city.

Some parts of the industry have even speculated the project might witness a change in direction. "Not a bit of it," declared Yousif Othman, promotion executive. "The mall is here to stay, and we are even mulling expansion at a later date." Othman asserted a fresh marketing campaign launched recently has resulted in the mall currently enjoying 97 per cent occupancy, with the number set to hit 100 per cent by end-year.
The mall has a gross leasable area totalling 67,000 square feet, with space for 60 outlets on the ground, mezzanine and Food Court levels. (The Gulf News Special Report)

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