Abu Dhabi Sailing Club and Jersey's St Helier Yacht Club join together
31 October 2016
One of Abu Dhabi's oldest sporting associations, the Abu Dhabi Sailing Club, has signed a membership exchange agreement with its equivalent in Jersey, the St Helier Yacht Club.
The Club, the first expatriate sporting and leisure organisation in Abu Dhabi, being established over 50 years ago, while the St Helier Yacht Club recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The agreement allows members of each club to make use of the facilities of the other when travelling and it’s the first time that the St Helier Yacht Club has signed such an agreement with a club anywhere in the Middle East.
The official exchange of letters was observed by Jersey's Minister of External Relations, Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, who arrived in Abu Dhabi last week to begin a short official visit to the UAE.
Speaking after the ceremony, Sir Philip said that the agreement reflected the shared seafaring heritage of Jersey and the UAE. He said: “Nearly 400 years ago, sailors and fishermen from Jersey were amongst the first to exploit the resources of the Great Banks off Newfoundland, starting the great cod fisheries of the North Atlantic and 150 years ago, Jersey's shipbuilding industry was still producing vessels that sailed the world's oceans. Perhaps some even came to the Gulf, though we haven't identified any yet.” "In Abu Dhabi local sailors and fishermen were harvesting pearls from the waters of the Gulf over 7,000 years ago and 2,000 years ago, Emirati sailors were travelling from here to China, nearly 1,500 years before the Portuguese found their way around the Cape of Good Hope. “In paintings of the Queens, Princesses and ladies of Renaissance Europe, you can see necklaces of pearls from the Gulf. Mother-of-pearl decorations, so fashionable in Victorian England, were made from shells collected here, off Abu Dhabi.”
Offshore oil and gas and great ports like Khalifa Port and Jebel Ali continue the UAE's relationship with the sea, while Jersey now exports oysters to the UAE market.
"The links with the sea of the people of the UAE and of Jersey aren't just a matter of fisheries, or of trade," Sir Philip said. "Those links are part of the heritage of both places, but so too is the devotion to the sea itself, to the winds and the tides, the currents and the waves. They are an essential part of what makes up the national character both of the Emirates and of Jersey.” “Nowhere is that better expressed than through the love of sailing, part of the shared maritime character of Jersey and the UAE.