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Dubai: Do you want to see a man flying in the air without an aircraft? It is going to happen in Dubai. The participants will not only fly, but compete against each other in the world’s first Dubai Jet Suit Race, to be held at Dubai Harbour on February 28.

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Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, confirmed that the novel event, a first of its kind globally, is being held thanks to the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. The event will see competitors relying on suits equipped with jet engines to navigate a predetermined course. The event is organised in cooperation with Gravity Industries, a company pioneering jet suits and the sport of jet suit racing.

Eight contestants from different countries, including the UAE’s Ahmed Al Shehhi, will vie for top honours and the sporting spectacle will serve to showcase Dubai’s eminence as a host of notable global events.

Beginning of a new era

Sheikh Mansoor added: “This race signals the beginning of a new era of exciting aerial sporting action globally and it is a true reflection of Dubai’s soaring spirit of enterprise as well as the human capacity to overcome challenges. The event also goes to highlight Dubai’s uniqueness and boundless energy in presenting to the world novel ideas that combine innovation, adventure and ambition that push the boundaries of human imagination and open the way for still greater achievements and innovations across the world.”

Emirati jet suit racer Ahmed Al Shehhi is undergoing intense specialised training in Britain to ensure qualification for the race.

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Richard Browning taking to the air during the press conference to announce the details of the world's first Dubai Jet Suit Race at Burj Park on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, said: “This race will add another unforgettable event to the Dubai sports calendar and for our diverse audience comprising different nationalities, marking the start of a new era in the world of aerial sports. We are pleased that among the participants in this historic event is an Emirati racer from the XDubai team.”

Elaborating on the event during the press conference held at the Burj Park with the backdrop of Burj Khalifa, Richard Browning, Founder and Chief Test Pilot of Gravity Industries, said: “To give you an easy perspective, the race is going to be like the Red Bull Air Race, without the planes. So it can be held even at smaller locations, where it’s only like two or three minutes of visceral exciting action over water. If somebody gets it wrong, they fall in the water, it looks spectacular.”

Mind-blowing spectacle

Gravity has delivered over 300 events in 45 countries over the last six years. But this race is aimed at taking the technology higher in a spectacular fashion.

“Gravity pilots have flown in Dubai multiple times over the last six years and it’s a real pleasure to be coming back to deliver a mind-blowing spectacle. Lots of guys and girls from different sporting backgrounds will be pushing the limits of human and machine technology in a spectacular location, something like a superhero in a Marvel film,” he added.

The race is set to be held something on the lines of motor racing, which starts with the qualifying, testing, heat and the pilots will go head to head in the grand finale.

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Gravity pilots after the demonstration in front of Burj Khalifa at Burj Park on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

“There will be chaos and falling in the water. We will build the rules around what has worked very well in motor racing. It’s going to be the first race globally in the end of February and then we’re going to grow other locations and keep growing the whole sport,” Browning added.

Talking about the capabilities of those wishing to participate, he clarified: “It’s like picking 100 people in training ski probably 15 of them will pick it up annoyingly within hours. Other people three weeks later is still rubbish skiers. It’s a bit like that. It just so depends on picking the right people with aptitude. We are looking at traits that are suggestive of a high capability. So surfing, skiing, snowboarding, even how fast you learn to ride a bike, all of those things,” he concluded.