Emirati Festival to be held in Destination Village during Abu Dhabi Volvo Ocean Race stopover

Dhow Race in Abu Dhabi Dhow Race in Abu Dhabi

A weekend celebration of Emirati culture and heritage on 26th and 27th December will be a highlight of Abu Dhabi city’s 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race Abu Dhabi Stopover, which runs in the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) capital between 12th December and 3rd January.

Visitors to the purpose-built Destination Village, more than the size of five football pitches, on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche breakwater will experience all aspects of the UAE, from cooking and food, to arts and crafts as well as music and entertainment. The programme will begin at 3pm on 26th December, including a live, ‘Jalsah’ concert – which is music performed in the traditional Arabian meeting room setting, running through till the evening of 27th December.

“We expect 200,000 visitors to the Stopover and many of them will be international tourists with lots seeing the country for the first time,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director – Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi.) “As well as four centuries of maritime heritage, Abu Dhabi enjoys a rich and diverse culture, which we aim to share for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.”


Given Abu Dhabi’s maritime heritage, a lot of the action takes place on the water with the magnificent sight of 100 dhows – the traditional Arabian sailing vessel - racing in the 43-foot dhow race on 27th December. After the prize-giving, the evening with feature a special guitar/Oud/sea chanting performance and the must-see premiere of the new film documentary ‘A Grain of Sand’ about the music and heritage of pearl divers in Abu Dhabi. The documovie is produced by Abu Dhabi-based filmmaker Ray Haddad and presented by British musician and composer Jason Carter.

Onshore visitors can taste local cuisine with cooking demos by the UAE’s first female national celebrity chef, Khulood Atiq. Using years of personal experience and research, Khulood has developed menus for some of Abu Dhabi's finest hospitality outlets including the stunning Qasr Al Sarab (Mirage Palace) Desert Resort in the breathtaking Liwa Desert. She has also published an Emirati cookbook, which helps raise international awareness of the UAE’s traditional food.

No celebration of Emirati heritage would be complete without henna painting, falconry shows by the Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, camel rides, Arabic calligraphy and language workshops, which will take place throughout the weekend across the entire Destination Village. Entertainment will include performances of the traditional Ayala dance and sea chanting performances.  

Hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi, the stopover festival will highlight Abu Dhabi’s union with the sea and its maritime heritage. There’ll be dhow racing, pearl diving showcases, traditional sea shanty performances, ocean conservation exhibitions and activities such as turtle conservation talks.

The Destination Village opens on December 12 with the Arabian debut of BBC Worldwide’s highly acclaimed Blue Planet in Concert which will be performed on a floating screen off Abu Dhabi Corniche breakwater.

Having previously played to sell-out audiences in the USA, Europe, the Far East and Australia, Blue Planet in Concert combines spectacular, specially cut high definition footage from the award winning TV series – The Blue Planet – with the emotional and evocative musical score performed by a live orchestra.

Two 90-minute evening performances of Blue Planet in Concert will be shown on December 12 and 13 on a 10-metre wide screen placed on a purpose-built, floating stage in the waters off Abu Dhabi’s stunning Corniche and will be accompanied by the 75-piece National Symphony Orchestra Abu Dhabi led by celebrity guest conductor George Fenton.

The village closes on the evening of January 3rd when the awe-inspiring race fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s, including the Azzam yacht sailed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – the emirate’s very own race contender - departs for its next endurance sailing leg to Sanya, China.

For more information about Abu Dhabi’s 2014/15 VOR Stopover please go to www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com or visit our Facebook and Twitter pages at www.facebook.com/AbuDhabiOceanRacing and @ADORlog.