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Abu Dhabi News


Abu Dhabi, UAE. 24th October 2012: Abu Dhabi has “all the ingredients to be leader in marine conservation” according to global explorer, Mike Horn, who was in the UAE capital on the penultimate stop of his four-year global sailing odyssey, the PANGAEA Expedition.

Having traversed the five oceans on a 150,000 nautical mile campaign to promote sustainable responsibility and education, Horn, who was docked at the Emirates Palace Marina, believes that with a wealth of natural beauty, and some of the ‘world’s most amazing micro-life off its shores’, Abu Dhabi has the potential to drive forward sustainable marine programmes and be a role model for other destinations.

“There is already so much rich marine life here in Abu Dhabi and the coastlines are remarkable, it has been one of the most interesting places I have visited so far. The potential is huge, and if the local youth get involved now, there is no reason why they cannot ensure Abu Dhabi is a centre of excellence for marine conservation,” said Horn, a Swiss adventurer who reached notoriety in 2000 after sailing around the equator without motor transport.

“There is so much scope to push projects forward, and it can be done on a truly local level. I know there are turtle conservation initiatives already going and I would love to see school children pushing to have underwater coral play parks introduced to help further the marine life.”

And Horn said creating role models to inspire youngsters was critical, and praised the work of Abu Dhabi’s Volvo Ocean Race sailors, Adil Khalid and Butti Al Muhairi, who were part of the first Arabian race team to compete in the global sailing round-the-world event this year.

“I think my generation took a wrong turn, so I want to use this project to teach today’s kids the right way. I want to work with future leaders. We need the young energy to take this forward, it should be kids inspiring kids, this is why having people like Adil and Butti are important for youngsters to look up to,” added Horn, who has used PANGAEA to teach 15-20 year olds about the world and its environment.

“We have to think global and act local. With all the new sailing schools coming online in Abu Dhabi, environmental programmes should be included in everything they do. I would love Abu Dhabi to take over my boat once I’m finished and use it to continue my work and push its own environmental agendas. I think we can start a centre here for sure, and bring international kids in to take part and help drive forward its development.”

Horn showed Khalid and Al Muhairi, who were part of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Volvo Ocean Race team, around his 105 ft PANGEA yacht, which he dubbed a ‘4×4 of the sea.’ He told the young sailors they had done much to spread word of Abu Dhabi’s watersport credentials.

“Abu Dhabi has the potential to be one of the world’s top sailing destinations. It has everything you need. And it is so close to Europe, so it is ideal for anyone wanting to escape the cold climates there. It is also ideal for hosting regattas; the Emirates Palace Marina is certainly one of the best I have ever seen. For many sailors, Abu Dhabi is an almost undiscovered jewel, so with the right backing, the staging of sailing events and proper academy and training, its future is very bright,” added Horn.

Khalid was impressed with Horn, who, in 2006, with Norwegian Børge Ousland, became the first to travel without dog or motorised transport to the North Pole during the permanent darkness of the Arctic Winter. The 23-year-old Emirati Olympian, vowed to help Horn spread his sustainability message among Arab youth.

“You meet Mike and you know he is a man who is driven, who wants to change the world and has the determination to do it. Determination is something close to my heart. Our yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race was called Azzam, which means determination, so I want to carry on that passion and help spread his message to youngsters across the region, and even the world,” said Khalid, the first Arab sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race, which took place from November 2011 to July 2012, covering 10 cities and 39,000 nautical miles, including the UAE capital.

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