In a highly-anticipated announcement, Oman Sail has revealed the four Omani recruits who will join the all-woman crew Al Thuraya BankMuscat for the prestigious Sailing Arabia The Tour (SATT), 2012.
The announcement was made at an official press conference organized by Oman Sail, in co-operation with BankMuscat, at the Bank’s headquarters. The event was attended by several officials and delegates from Oman and the GCC, including Her Highness Sheikha Naima Al Sabah, Head of GCC Women Sports Organizing Committee, Ahlam Al Mana, Chairwoman of Qatar Women Spots Committee, Sayyida Sana Al Busaidi, Head of Women Sports Association at Oman Olympic Committee, Bing Liu Shu representing International Olympic Committee, Zaitoon Othman representing the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Dr Muna Al Ansari from Bahrain University, Dr Maryam Arab from Kuwait University and Saada Al Ismaili Head of Womens Sports association Ministry of Sports, Sulaiman bin Mohamed Al Yahyai– Vice-Chairman BankMuscat, and David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail.
Led by world record-breaking British sailor Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions, the four Omani women selected to join the crew are:
1. Intisar Al Tobi
2. Raya Al Habsi
3. Tahira Al Yahyai
4. Khulood Al Kindi
They will join their international team mates in participating in the second edition of Sailing Arabia The Tour on board Al Thuraya BankMuscat; the first fully women team to compete with other regional and international sailing teams in a grueling 15 day offshore race, over a course of 1408km along the Arabian Gulf Coast. The Tour is set to start from 9 to 27 Feb, 2012.
Skipper Dee Caffari said: “Sailing Arabia The Tour is going to be a tough one! The competition is really tough some of the guys participating in it have done it before this is a whole new area for me to sail in personally but we are going to amazing places and the fact that this region is embracing sailing and want to make this project happen I think the tour going to grow strength to strength each year and I feel great to be part of it this year”
The first time I visited Oman is when I joined the program and I am really impressed with the speed of which the country has developed with such available facilities where people can sail in safe waters and in a really beautiful environment. I know that sailing here is going to expand because when you got this much coast line available, people are going to want to make the most of it” she added.
The four selected Omani sailors are the result of the Women’s Sailing Program launched by Oman Sail back in October 2011. The unique program is designed to create a safe, informative and culturally appropriate environment for the women, and contribute to their development through the sport of sailing. The Women’s Sailing Program aims to train, coach, qualify, employ and develop young Omani female sailors to join their male colleagues, equipping them with all the necessary skills to excel.
During their training and selection process the sailors went through an intense training program coached by top international professional sailors. The program focused on preparing the women and teaching them offshore sailing techniques that require much hard work and commitment.
“ It has been a very intensive selection process to get the girls for the offshore program and I know the girls have been working really hard an filled with enthusiasm, they are like sponges they want to observe all the information and the team they have got around them, between us we have got 11 round the world journeys, so there is a lot forexperience and I think we have got a winning team” added Dee
Commenting about her selection in the team, Intisar Al Tobi said: “I feel very proud to be selected as part of Al Thuraya Bank Muscat. We have worked veryhard to get here and our efforts have paid off, but at the same time, we all know that it is also our responsibility to represent our country, and our team in the best form we can. We have gone through a strong training program coached by one of the best sailors in the world. We have learned a great deal aboutsport and we work great as a team to prepare for the upcoming bigger event.”
Her team mate, Raya Al Habsya added “The Tour is not going to be an easy ride since we will be competing with some of the top sailors from around the GCC and Europe but we will do our best to focus, practice our learning and we will continue the journey with high spirits. Our team is the first step for women to enter such an offshore tour in the region and we hope that in the coming years the event will inspire and attract more Arab female sailing teams to participate and compete in a sport that revives the maritime tradition of the region. I would like to thank both Oman Sail and BankMuscat for their great support and for giving us this opportunity and we will work hard to keep everyone proud of our team"
Sulaiman bin Mohamed Al Yahyai, Vice–Chairman of Bank Muscat commented: “BankMuscat is proud to support the Omani Women’s Sailing Programme organized in response to the Royal directive of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to empower women by encouraging them to develop sailing skills for recreation and competitive sport.The association with the Oman Sail project stems from BankMuscat’s Corporate Social Responsibility to channelize the country’s heritage to future generations.”
Al Yahyai: added: “BankMuscat is committed to supporting young Omani women in developing their sailing skills and create a sustainable sailing future for the country. The sailing programme draws a striking parallel to the Bank’s ability to take upon challenges and prove its determination to complete each voyage on high endurance level.”
The Bank welcomed members of Al ThurayaBankMuscat team to the exclusive Zeinah suite of products and services targeted at the women of today. Zeinah, the first-of-its-kind banking service in Oman in line with the national development objectives, is aimed at offering the most rewarding banking experience. The Zeinah suite includes exclusive cards, designated counters at branches and specially designed products, including auto loan.
David Graham, Oman Sail’s CEO said: add quote I am delighted for Intisar, Raya, Tahira and Khulood. It was a challenging period for the selected team, aligning skill sets with future career’s. These four ladies have been selected as racer’s representing Oman in sports. We have also selected the females who are going to coach the Omani youth sailing, an equally important task as it is the foundation of our programme.