Dubai: A top official from the UAE Marine Sports Federation will be leading a four-member delegation to Valencia to sell the concept of Dubai as an alternate venue to host the America's Cup.
The event is the most famous and most prestigious regatta in the sport of sailing, and is the oldest active trophy in international sport, predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years.
This year's America's Cup, which will be contested between defending champions Alinghi and challengers Emirates Team New Zealand, is being held in Spain from June 23.
Saeed Hareb, Managing Director of the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), who will be heading the UAE delegation to Spain, is hopeful that the America's Cup will one day be staged in Dubai.
"If Alinghi wins, then they may chose to continue with Valencia. And if Emirates Team New Zealand wins, they might opt to race in New Zealand," he told Gulf News.
"However, both the teams will have Dubai in mind as one of the venues.
"We have an exchange programme with Emirates Team New Zealand, while Alinghi has a first-hand experience of our facilities when they set up their winter base here," Hareb said.
As per rules laid down, the winner of the America's Cup has the right to choose the venue for the next running of the Cup, which will be held in 2009.
"Alinghi enjoyed their stay in Dubai during the winter, and they are very interested in returning as they feel this is a perfect place to prepare for the Cup," Hareb noted.
"We are service providers and if they want to utilise the infrastructure we have in Dubai, they are free to do so."
Triumph for Dubai
Hareb also stressed the importance of the UAE Marine Sports Federation having a presence in Valencia during next week's America's Cup finale.
"Emirates Team New Zealand is sponsored by Emirates airline, while Alinghi conducted their winter base in Dubai at the end of last year. So there is every reason why we have to be part of the final in Valencia."
Emirates Team New Zealand last week won the Louis Vuitton Cup, beating 10 rivals from nine countries, and earned the right to challenge Alinghi for the America's Cup, the most sought after prize in sailing history. The regatta is a challenge-driven yacht series that currently involves a best-of-nine races.
Dubai is also considering fielding a syndicate for the next America's Cup.
"Having a team representing Dubai would be a huge advantage," Hareb said. "And whether Alinghi defends successfully or Emirates Team New Zealand wins the America's Cup, it will be a triumph for Dubai."