Life & Style | Leisure

Film boat drops anchor in UAE

UAE national is the proud owner of a powerboat that once carried Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz in the movie, Sahara, whose scenes were shot partly in the deserts of Dubai.

  • By Rania Habib, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 February 20, 2006
  • Tabloid

Abu Dhabi can now boast a piece of Hollywood berthed elegantly in its waters.

The impressive Calliope, featured in the movie Sahara, is a nautical beauty that now belongs to Abu Dhabi resident Khaled Al Qubaisi.

After watching the movie Sahara, starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, Al Qubaisi zeroed in on the powerboat which was used by the stars to travel through the Niger river.

They were on an adventure that took them through the deserts of West Africa, seeking a lost Civil War battleship.

Interested

"The first time I saw the movie, I really liked the way the boat looked," says Al Qubaisi.

"I'm a boat enthusiast and always have been. Since I was a kid, I was interested in all kinds of water sports, so when I saw this one, it really grabbed my interest."

Al Qubaisi traced the RS43 powerboat to the manufacturers, Hunton Powerboats, and made the calls inquiring about the Calliope, hoping to purchase a similar boat.

As luck would have it, the exact boat used in the movie was on sale. He contacted the Sahara production company, an undisclosed price was negotiated and the Calliope arrived in the UAE in January.

Docked safely

While the dummy Calliope was destroyed in the movie Sahara, the real Calliope is now safely docked at the Abu Dhabi Marina, only a few metres away from the cinema where Al Qubaisi first saw the powerboat.
 
"It's nice that it's associated with the movie," he says. "Everybody knows about it and it gets noticed a lot. Owning it is fun and it's also an investment, so you can't go wrong."

How the boat looks

Although the RS43 boat model is commercially available, the one used in Sahara was made according to specific requirements set by the producer.

The colour, engine and jet drives on the Calliope were all especially made for the action movie, as the shallow waters of the Niger river required easy and fast manoeuvring.

In fact, the jet drives on the Calliope have a braking system that can go from full speed to a standstill almost instantly.

The Calliope is a 43 foot long boat with two Yanmar engines, runs on an impressive 600 horse power, and can sail up to 50 miles an hour. It is even equipped with a radar system, a feature generally found on larger boats.

On the inside, the powerboat's cabin holds a living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and even a cooking station. The soft brown leather on the Calliope is inviting and stylish.

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