A world class sailor and a recent participant in the Volvo Ocean round the world race. Here he tells us about his sport and his love for his country
In all 10 ports of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, every time the Abu Dhabi ship came into approach Adil Khalid was, without fail, at the flagpole on-board hoisting the red, black, green and white colours of the UAE. ‘I wanted to show the world that the UAE had arrived,’ he tells us. ‘No matter where we were I had to raise the flag – to give full Emirati support.’
In 2012, Khalid was the youngest member aboard an eightman sailing team in the biannual race that circumnavigates the globe. He was also one of only two Emiratis in the crew and says he took the opportunity to tell people about his country from Portugal to South Africa, New Zealand and beyond. ‘The Volvo was a great race, a great experience both personally and professionally. On one side I was representing my country in sailing and on another at a cultural level. It was a great feeling. I was an ambassador for my country and representing it in every port.’
Khalid says he was asked by scores of people every day about his country, some asked him whether there were restaurants and bars and others inquired about the national dress – abayas and kandoras.
I was representing my country in every port; it was a great feeling
‘It was kind of surprising how little people knew about the UAE but I told them we have everything here, thousands of places to go and all the sports you can imagine – even skiing!’
While undertaking the nine-month challenge, Khalid put the UAE flag in his cabin by his bed and says it gave him inspiration. ‘Every time I woke up in the morning and I saw my flag behind me, I felt like my whole country was behind me. I knew that I wasn’t doing this race just for sailing, but for them.’
Since returning in July last year, Khalid is now part of the first full Emirati crew in Sailing Arabia – The Tour – a challenge from Bahrain to Qatar, back to the UAE and on to Muscat. He is also helping to develop sailing in the capital in the newly opened Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club as well as spending a lot of time at the Dubai International Marine Club. ‘It is my dream now to promote sailing in the UAE and the Gulf, so that we become one of the best countries in the world. I love my country first of all and anything I do, I do for my country. I hope that one day we will have an all Emirati team on board the round-the-world yacht. Then we can win it and show the world we are the best. Sheikh Mohammed [bin Zayed al Sultan] always says that we should be number one, so I hope that one day, in sailing, we are.’