A sailing lesson for Emirati girls

ABU DHABI // Competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race are used to sailing some of the world’s most high-tech and modern yachts.

During their stopover in the capital, however, members of the all-women team, SCA, had the chance to try out a more traditional vessel.

Sally Barkow, Annie Lush and Corina Halloran were invited by Ameera Amir Horriyat to sail a wooden dhow in the waters off the Corniche.

Ms Horriyat recently founded Weyakum, an Emirati non-for-profit social enterprise that seeks to equip and empower Emirati youth from the high school level all the way to young professionals with the right skills to succeed in their professional lives. And Salama Al Mansoori, 12, Elyazia Al Mansoori, 9, and Maha Al Marzooqi, 10, three Emirati girls from the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, joined the women from the SCA team on the dhow.

Ms Horriyat hoped the trip would inspire Emirati would-be sailors.

“The girls experienced sailing a dhow. They also experienced the challenge and what it’s like to be a strong sailor. It was also an opportunity to showcase Emirati culture to visitors.”

She said the UAE is renowned for its empowerment of women.

“The UAE is one of the lead advocates in the Arab world that promotes women empowerment and the UAE has females in all fields.

“So we wanted women sailors – these young girls – to be inspired by these women who are taking the challenge in the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Ms Horriyat.

Barkow, 34, from the United States, said she enjoyed sailing with the young Emiratis.

“Sailing the dhow was a really cool experience, it was neat learning how to sail it. And to be able to sail with these young girls, it was really impressive. We put them to the challenge and they took it,” she said.

“It’s really fun to sail with younger girls, who are just learning how to sail and are excited about it.” She advised other girls to also take to the “beautiful waters in Abu Dhabi”.