Monday, October 5, 2009

Americans Claim RAK Unsafe While Alinghi and Locals Highlight Peaceful Haven

Reprogramming the American Mind
BMW Oracle is asking the New York Court to reject the UAE venue for the America’s Cup in favour of Valencia saying the team has ‘grave safety concerns’ for its US-based crew.

The thought of sailing their American trimaran named ‘USA’ with an American flag on top of the 200-foot mast within 17 miles of Iran is anathema to the American mind.

Yet, as Alinghi has countered, international sports players like Tiger Woods and Roger Federer are regular visitors to the Emirates and BMW Oracle spokesman, Russell Coutts has sailed annually in off the UAE coast for the last few years.

If BMW Oracle is reflecting the ‘warning lights’ that are blinking in the minds of most Americans, this is all the more reason for the race to be staged in these waters. To engage in a peaceful competition off the shore of an Islamic country and in waters near Iran may do wonders for reprogramming the American mind.

In the meantime, the local representatives of Ras al Khaimah are putting their publicity machine into overdrive.

Haven of Peace
In the long-standing foreword to the RAK Tourism site, Sheik Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi begins his greeting to readers and tourists in this way:

“Welcome to Ras Al Khaimah, a haven of peace where age-old traditions and modern life co-exist in harmony.

In the News section of the site the following statement is an effort to allay the danger threat of danger and extend a genuine welcome:

America’s Cup to highlight Ras Al Khaimah’s popularity as a safe destination
RAK Investment Authority, the government agency responsible for attracting economic development and promoting the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, issued a statement today addressing the concerns raised about security for the upcoming 33rd America’s Cup to be held in February 2010.

“The UAE and specifically Ras Al Khaimah is an extremely safe venue for the America’s Cup. The Emirate of Ras al Khaimah has peaceful and friendly relations with all of its neighbours. The venue and all the visitors to Ras Al Khaimah in the coming weeks and months will be received in a similar friendly, peaceful and security conscious way,” said Dr Khater Massaad, CEO of RAK Investment Authority and Special Advisor to Ras Al Khaimah’s Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler, H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi.

Massaad went on to say that: “It is quite reasonable to state that security for the America’s Cup would be significant no matter where the event is held and in Ras Al Khaimah this event will receive the same level of importance with full cooperation from the Navy, Coast Guards and the Police services to ensure the safety and well being of all visitors to the Emirate.”

Internationally, the UAE has a well regarded reputation as one of safest holiday destinations and for maintaining one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The country annually welcomes international events of all sorts: academic, diplomatic, sporting, business… and has never had any problems, particularly in terms of safety. We are familiar with hosting sports personalities – including Americans – who compete in events with worldwide acclaim.

Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE is a multicultural and forward looking country, there are, for example, 87 American companies which represent approximately 8% of the new companies that have commenced business in the emirate over the past few years. These figures grow in to the hundreds when you look at the UAE as a whole.

“More than 80% of the total numbers of new companies in Ras Al Khaimah are foreign-owned, further proving that the Emirate is a very safe and productive place to do business and to live. The local and federal governments have worked hard to transform the Emirates in to an investor’s haven, with security as a core element,” concluded Dr Khater Massaad

The Emirate has been working for the past two months installing infrastructure on Al Hamra Island, the base for both teams, and is reaching the final stages of delivery for Alinghi. However, Dr Massaad said, Ras Al Khaimah is still waiting for direction from BMW Oracle in regards to their requirements.

In addition, Ras Al Khaimah offers close to 3000 hotel rooms and is situated less than one hour north of Dubai, where there are in excess of 10,000 hotel rooms available to visitors and fans of the event.

Local and international experts and officials concur that Ras Al Khaimah is one of the safest destinations for the 33rd America’s Cup. “We hope BMW Oracle will reconsider their position and join us in Ras al Khaimah for what will be one of the greatest sporting spectacles in the history of yachting,” said Massaad.

Other Stories and Related Sites
Emirates Pilots Speak of Fatigue and Safety Issues but Airline Slams the Report, Experiencing the Emirates, 3 October 2009.

See Alinghi’s Arrival in UAE while BMW Oracle Wants Valencia Venue, America’s Cup in the UAE, 3 October 2009.

Rental Property Update in Fujairah UAE, Fujairah in Focus, 5 October 2009.

Luxury Pen to Commemorate Gandhi’s Birthday is Not Write, Stories for Speakers and Writers, 4 October 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Al Hamra Beach (Photo courtesy of RAK Tourism at above link)