Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and the other Volvo teams will not sail out of Abu Dhabi to a container ship, as the threat of pirate attacks have been quelled. Mike Young / The National
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and the other Volvo teams will not sail out of Abu Dhabi to a container ship, as the threat of pirate attacks have been quelled. Mike Young / The National

Fair winds and following seas as threat of piracy no longer looms over Volvo Ocean Race

A reduction in the threat of piracy off the eastern coast of Africa means that the second and third legs of this year's Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) may not face the disruption in the previous race of 2011/12.

That year, the Cape Town to Abu Dhabi leg involved all the boats sailing to a secret safe haven destination, where they were loaded onto an armed ship without their crew, which then took them through the safest possible route and unloaded them along the Sharjah coastline.

For the subsequent leg to Sanya, in China, the boats sailed a short distance out of Abu Dhabi before being loaded onto a ship again and taken to another safe destination, from where they finished the leg.

Improved security in the region means pirates hijacked the fewest number of merchant ships in 2013 in nearly a decade.

Two vessels were hijacked in 2013 compared to 14 in 2012, according to a report from the International Maritime Bureau.

In turn that has encouraged race organisers to believe that the threat will not impinge heavily on the second and third legs this year.

“Currently our advice is that we will sail the whole way,” Knut Frostad, the VOR chief executive, said.

“As we speak today, we will sail all the way from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi to Sanya without any interfering in the actual sailing.

“That said, if we do sail all the way, which is the current plan, we will not give them complete freedom into where they race.

“They will have an enforced limitation, pushing them quite far to the east.”

VOR has been running regular risk management training programmes, which cover dealing with the hazards posed by piracy.

At least based on history, the threat would appear to be minimal – only one boat has been hijacked during a race and that was in the 1970s.

Frostad acknowledged that they would continue to keep a vigilant eye on what is always a fluid ­situation.

“We monitor piracy all the time, both through military and private intelligence and we do that every week,” he said.

“Every week we have an assessment internally about the situation. When it comes to what we will do, it depends completely on the advice we are getting. This picture changes.

“Since the last race, it has only changed for the better.

“The frequency of piracy in the Indian Ocean has in fact moved to the west coast of Africa rather than the east coast. We actually have piracy assessments now that gives us higher risks around the north-east coast of South America rather than where we are sailing in the Indian Ocean.”

Ironically, Abu Dhabi stands to benefit from the continuing risks posed by pirates.

This year’s stopover in the capital has been extended by a week to account for any such incidents during the second leg.

The boats are expected to arrive from Cape Town between December 11 and 15 and the third leg begins on January 3, with the in-port race scheduled for January 2.

That, according to Frostad, works out well for the long-term ambitions of the race to have an enhanced presence in this part of the world.

“It was a very strategic decision for us to move the race to also include the region for many reasons,” Frostad said.

“The sport is growing here, not only Abu Dhabi but also in Oman, Dubai and other places.”

It also means that the capital will be the longest stopover of any during the nine-month race.

“I’m excited about the stopover,” Frostad said.

“It’s going to be fantastic. It was one of our most exciting stopovers last race and a very high quality one.

“It was a great experience and highlighted the local interest in sailing, which is stronger than people are aware of, with all the dhow racing on the coast.

“We really enjoyed that and Christmas in Abu Dhabi will be very good for all the sailors.”


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Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Should late investors consider cryptocurrencies?

Wealth managers recommend late investors to have a balanced portfolio that typically includes traditional assets such as cash, government and corporate bonds, equities, commodities and commercial property.

They do not usually recommend investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies due to the risk and volatility associated with them.

“It has produced eye-watering returns for some, whereas others have lost substantially as this has all depended purely on timing and when the buy-in was. If someone still has about 20 to 25 years until retirement, there isn’t any need to take such risks,” Rupert Connor of Abacus Financial Consultant says.

He adds that if a person is interested in owning a business or growing a property portfolio to increase their retirement income, this can be encouraged provided they keep in mind the overall risk profile of these assets.

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

Global institutions: BlackRock and KKR

US-based BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager, with $5.98 trillion of assets under management as of the end of last year. The New York firm run by Larry Fink provides investment management services to institutional clients and retail investors including governments, sovereign wealth funds, corporations, banks and charitable foundations around the world, through a variety of investment vehicles.

KKR & Co, or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is a global private equity and investment firm with around $195 billion of assets as of the end of last year. The New York-based firm, founded by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, invests in multiple alternative asset classes through direct or fund-to-fund investments with a particular focus on infrastructure, technology, healthcare, real estate and energy.



Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures


1 Sam Bennett (IRL) Deceuninck-QuickStep - 4:51:51

2 David Dekker (NED) Team Jumbo-Visma

3 Caleb Ewan (AUS) Lotto Soudal 

4 Elia Viviani (ITA) Cofidis

5 Matteo Moschetti (ITA) Trek-Segafredo

General Classification

1 Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates - 12:50:21

2 Adam Yates (GBR) Teamn Ineos Grenadiers - 0:00:43

3 Joao Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep - 0:01:03

4 Chris Harper (AUS) Jumbo-Visma - 0:01:43

5 Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo - 0:01:45

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi, Oneworld

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens


Friday Stuttgart v Cologne (Kick-off 10.30pm UAE)

Saturday RB Leipzig v Hertha Berlin (5.30pm)

Mainz v Borussia Monchengladbach (5.30pm)

Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt (5.30pm)

Union Berlin v SC Freiburg (5.30pm)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (5.30pm)

Sunday Wolfsburg v Arminia (6.30pm)

Werder Bremen v Hoffenheim (9pm)

Bayer Leverkusen v Augsburg (11.30pm)

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1

Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Stars: Pedro Pascal and Katee Sackhoff

Rating: 4/5 


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)


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Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid


Tickets start at Dh100 for adults, while children can enter free on the opening day. For more information, visit www.mubadalawtc.com.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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