Around 200 residents including women took part in a first-of-its-kind dragon boat race in Dubai yesterday.
Twelve teams of amateur paddlers raced in the Festival Bay of Dubai Festival City as part of the two-day carnival to mark the closing ceremony of Dubai Fitness Challenge.
Organised by Hit 96.7FM, a Malayalam radio station in Dubai, the race participated by expats from the South Indian state of Kerala replicated the traditional boat racing called ‘Vallam Kali’ synonymous with the state’s cultural activities.
Gail Fernandes, an academic adviser in Abu Dhabi, joined her college alumni friends in Dubai to paddle for the winning women’s team.
“Our friend Kavitha Nair took the initiative to get the 10 of us among 16 participants who won the women’s title,” she told Gulf News.
“It was an awesome experience. When we started practicing, we were wondering if we were fit enough for this. But we finally made it.”
Nazreen Abdullah, who was among hundreds of people who came to witness the event, said she was happy to see the Kerala-style dragon boats racing in Dubai waters.
“It was amazing to see the participants showing the same spirit of professional paddlers and singing the traditional folk songs sung during boat races back home while rowing.”
Four winning teams were given away vouchers worth Dh10,000 including those for surf paddling.
Sunset yoga, Mat Pilates, ballet, six pack abs workout and several other games and competitions were also held as part of the event on Friday which concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.
Ian Bradley, director PR and Communications at Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told Gulf News that the presence of Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum revved up the day’s activities attended by thousands of residents.