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Mussanah Marina, part of Mussanah Sports City, was officialy inaugurated on Thursday by His Excellency SheikhSaad bin Mohammed bin Said Al Mardhoof Al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by dignitaries including Oman Sail’s Chairperson, Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrooqi, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism.

Located 85km from Muscat and purpose built to host the 2010 Asian Beach Games, Musannah Sports City covers one million square metres on the coast of the Wilayat of Al Musannah. The 54 berth marina, complete with boatyard, round the clock security and changing rooms for boat owners and visiting crews, is the latest addition to the complex that already includes a four star hotel, apartments, food halls as well as other state of the facilities.

With its marina, Mussanah Sports City is being positioned to become a premier venue for international sailing events. The Sultanate has already won two contracts to host significant events at the facility. The Laser World Championships comprises three events is to be held from November 2013 until January 2014. The prestigious ISAFYouth Sailing World Championships are due in 2016. In this the top 14-19 year old sailors from around the world, among them the Olympic champions of the future, get their first chance to compete on the international stage.

Oman Sail CEO David Graham commented: “Mussanah Sports City is the perfect platform to host international championships in home waters. Hosting major sailing events annually and capitalising on the infrastructure was the reason why Mussanah Sports City was built in the first place.”

Issa Al Ismaili, Event Director at Oman Sail spoke about some of the major events that have taken place atMussanah Sports City since the Asian Beach Games in 2010. The venue has already regularly played host toMussanah Race Week and Sailing Arabia-The Tour and is now preparing to host the Laser World Championships and the ISAF Youth Worlds.

“All these events are helping to promote Oman as one of the ideal sailing venues in the world, and attract athletes and media promoting Mussanah and its world class facilities and state of the art infrastructure,” said Al Ismaili.

At the opening ceremony the dignitaries took the opportunity to learn about Oman Sail’s community and commercial programs set up at the Sports City. Starting with a presentation by Abdullah Al Busaidi, one of twoOmani sailors who took part in the 2009-10 Clipper Round the World Race, where over 10 months crews get to compete on a 40,000 mile long course that laps the planet, starting and finishing in the UK and visiting Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, China, San Francisco, New York, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Al Busaidi spoke about his experiences with Oman Sail, how he started sailing, the Clipper race and how this experience has qualified him now to play a professional role within Oman Sail. He currently is skipper of one of Oman Charter’s yachts, showing guests Oman’s magnificent coastline. He added that Oman Charter, based out ofMussanah Marina, is well situated being close to the Al Sawadi Beach Resort and Spa and the Daymaniyat Islands nature reserve.

His Excellency and the official delegation were taken on a tour of the Mussanah Marina taking in the Dive Centre that was also launched by Oman Sail following an increased demand to go diving off the beautiful Omani coast and is another contribution national project has made to the development of the marine industry in the Sultanate. The Centre runs internationally recognised PADI diving courses and is equipped with a new dive boat with the capacity to take 20 divers out at a time.

The delegation was also introduced to sailors in the Oman Sail Youth Program and Oman’s national dinghy squad that spends much of its time training out of the sailing school at Mussanah. Oman’s future Olympians, the national squad sailors have the long term goal of winning a gold medal for the sultanate at the Olympic Games in 2024.

David Graham said: “Oman Sail’s main objectives are to identify local talent, train them and qualify them internationally. The sailing school we have established in Musannah is in line with these objectives.”

On a weekly basis, the sailing school is also used by hundreds of Omani children where they get to learn about sailing, as part of a community program Oman Sail has established in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

His Excellency Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed bin Said Al Mardhoof Al Saadi said: “The opening of Mussanah Marina is the latest addition to watersports facilities available in the Sultanate. Hosting international world championships will help to promote Oman internationally. The marina was always planned as part of infrastructure after the Sports City had successfully hosted the Asian Beach Games, followed by the World Beach Handball Championship. Now we are all looking forward to the Laser World Championships later this year. All these events help to activate the tourism sector in the country and promote Oman as an ideal destination for hosting international championships.”

His Excellency Naser Al Khumaisi representative of wilayat Mussanah on Majlis al-Shura added: “It is great to see the opening of Mussanah Marina, the latest addition to Musannah Sports City, and in particular the qualifiedOmanis from Oman Sail who are running this project. This is the foundation of the sailing industry in the country. I thank everyone who has contributed to the development of sailing in Oman. Oman has a strong maritime heritage which is now entering a new phase through which we promote the commercial and the tourism side of our country as well as helping our youth to engage in a sport, while developing their skills and training them.”

The official opening ceremony and tour was followed by an open day when more than 600 members of public had the opportunity try sailing and diving for free.

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