UAE comes to Ireland for Volvo Ocean Race
Thousands of yacht racing fans in Galway, Ireland, danced to the Abu Dhabi beat for the final stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, the gruelling nine-month round the world sailing odyssey.
Festivities included a troupe of traditional Emirati Al Ayala dancers, chanting national songs of the United Arab Emirates. They teamed up with six local dancers who were showing off their intricate and fast paced footwork, to blend the best of Arabian and Irish moves, wowing crowds outside Abu Dhabi's specially-built Race Village pavilion.
The Al Ayala represents Abu Dhabi's deep-rooted horsemanship past and the notion of bravery in battle - all set to the beat of drums. The troupe launched Galway's Abu Dhabi day, as the emirate rolled out the red carpet to woo Irish visitors.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) fully supports Volvo Ocean Race contesting outfit Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and is the first Official Destination Partner for the 'Everest of Sailing'.
Other activities that took place around the village were two traditional Arabian sailing dhows, which had been flown into Galway to take part in the celebrations.
Travelling with them were 10 Emirati sailors as part of the UAE-Ireland Maritime Heritage Cultural Exchange to highlight social and cultural ties between the destinations.
The project was a joint venture by the Galway Hooker Association, which promotes the use of Ireland's traditional 'Hooker' fishing boat and the Emirates Heritage Club.
Calligraphy artists were also on hand to turn names into works of art, while henna specialists painted intricate designs on visitors. Fans of the traditional Arabian falcon, which is Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's emblem, also got up close to the majestic birds.
Among those enjoying the UAE festivities were Seamus and Teresa Campbell, who said: "So lovely and warm. It's friendly, festive and warm. It's wonderful to see all the nationalities coming together."
And Melvin McGowan added: "The Abu Dhabi tent is fantastic. It's great to have it in Galway. Abu Dhabi sets as example of how to give back to the public. It'd wonderful to have to have the art, calligrapher and falcons offering so everyone can get involved."
The Volvo Ocean Race finishes on July 7 with the final In-Port Race of the series.