What’s On speaks to the Capital Dragons captain to find out how dragon boat racing in Abu Dhabi and UAE is growing, and how you can join.

Fancy learning a new skill and getting fit while you do it? Dragon boat racing is a team sport that sees paddlers compete in both sprint and endurance races. Thair Haikal, team captain for the Capital Dragons Abu Dhabi, explains why you should join the crew.

What is dragon boat racing? It is a team water sport that originated from China, where long, narrow boats race against each other. It has been practiced for over 2,000 years and now is in more than 50 countries around the world. In Abu Dhabi the sport was introduced into the region in 2006 to 2007.

Has the sport increased in popularity here in Abu Dhabi? Since I joined in 2010 it has really picked up. At the beginning we started with ten paddlers and then reached 60. Every year we have at least 100 people try the sport with us. The UAE Dragon Boat Association hosts four to six events in the year and around 6,000 people take part.

How many people are on the team? Currently we have approximately 40 people. It is a mixed team; in addition we have a ladies-only team.


Where do you practise? We practise in the water break area close to Marina Mall. Practice is one hour and we meet four times a week. It is a full body workout, we use the core and legs and a little bit of the arms. You need endurance and strength. We also practice off the boat and do land training including running and boot camps to make sure everyone is fit and strong at the same time.

Do you have to have special requirements to join the team? For our team we don’t have any fitness or experience requirement. Basically you can take any person and turn them into a professional paddler with time. We like to welcome everyone. We take care of teaching you everything. So anyone who lives in Abu Dhabi can join us.

When is your next race? We have an event on April 17 in Ras Al Khaimah and the following weekend we have an event in Dubai. We have competitions in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and RAK and very soon in Oman y. The next race in Abu Dhabi will be in October at the Shangri-La.

Why should you try dragon boat racing? We do it for three reasons – fitness, fun and friendship. It is a good way to get fit, meet new friends and it is a fun sport. It is the ultimate team sport. You have 20 people on one boat and they motivate you and push each other to the limit.

To find out more and how to join the team visit: capitaldragons.weebly.com