Zain Group, the pioneer of mobile telecommunications in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces its participation in the 2015 EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) competition, the Gulf region’s leading offshore race organized by Oman Sail.
Zain has partnered with global technology provider Huawei and global law firm Clifford Chance to race a high performance fully branded racing yacht – a ‘Farr 30’- that will carry the logos of all three partners. The 700 nautical-mile sailing route will start in Muscat, Oman on 15 February, pass through Sohar, Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, and will end in Manama, Bahrain on 26 February.
The 12 man crew will be led by two sailing veterans, Cedric Pouligny, the skipper, and Gerald Veniard, the navigator, who are previous winners of the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour race. Between them these two veterans of the sport have competed in this sailing race in virtually every year since its establishment, and they are both highly accomplished offshore sailors, with numerous Transat races, Tour de France a la Voile, and Route du Rhum achievements to their credit.
The crew also includes Bader Al Kharafi, Deputy Chairman of Zain Group, and several other sailing amateurs from Zain’s management ranks, together representing a very mixed level of sailing experience.
Commenting on Zain’s participation in this annual event for the first time, Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said, “We recognize that sailing has an important cultural legacy in the region and we are a keen supporter of promoting this. As a leading telecom brand who values team work, cooperation, and a sense of adventure, we strongly believe that we must play a leadership role in our societies, and sailing, with its environmentally friendly image, promotion of physical activity, technical precision, and coordination is an ideal way for us to showcase a number of our core values.”
Furthermore Mr Gegenheimer noted, “The SATT really is a world-class event, and a massive challenge for an amateur crew. It will give us exposure to racing against genuinely world-class opposition, in a beautiful sailing area. This is the fifth edition of the sailing race, and the Zain team plans to be a fixture in the event for many years to come. I wish our Deputy Chairman and the rest of the crew safe sailing and good luck.”
On his part, Oman Sail CEO David Graham said, “It is pleasing to see established corporate entities like Zain, Huawei, and Clifford Chance join many other corporations from the region in this world-class sailing race. SATT has grown in stature over the past five years because it is a well-run event in beautiful scenery that offers sailors, both professional and amateur from all over the world, the chance to train and compete in fantastic conditions during the winter. It also provides an outstanding platform to grow regional talent raising the standard of our home-grown sailors”.
The 2015 EFG Sailing Arabia race is expected to throw up a number of unique challenges. As the traditional route has been reversed with a new starting point, it will create a more exacting test for the boat and crew in the form of strong and sustained headwinds in the early stages. In addition, the crew will have to overcome the difficult currents around the Straits of Hormuz, as well as the many obstacles (fishing nets, unlit oil installations, etc.) and all the shipping traffic in one of the world’s busiest waterways.
Supporting Zain’s participation in the sailing race are two key strategic business partners. Huawei, one of the world’s leading suppliers of mobile telecom equipment and smartphones, is celebrating its 15th year in the Middle East. The company is a major supporter of sport across the GCC, and has a strong interest in promoting sustainable business around the world. Clifford Chance is a leading global law firm, which has worked with Zain for decades. This year Clifford Chance celebrates 40 years in the Middle East, having so far advised on many high-profile deals including several large sporting events.