Dubai Sports Council announces world’s first jet suit race

Photo credit: WAM

Under the patronage and directives of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, the Dubai Sports Council has announced the launch of the “Dubai Jet Suit Race”, to be held on 28th February 2024, WAM reports.

In what will be the first sporting contest in the world featuring opponents who go aerial without the aid of an aircraft, competitors will rely instead on suits equipped with jet engines to navigate a predetermined course. The event is organised in cooperation with Gravity Industries, a company pioneering jet suits and the sport of jet suit racing.

H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, confirmed that the novel event, a first of its kind globally, is being held thanks to the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

Eight contestants from different countries, including the UAE’s Ahmed Al Shehhi, will vie for top honours and the sporting spectacle will serve to showcase Dubai’s eminence as a host of notable global events.

Sheikh Mansoor added, “This race signals the beginning of a new era of exciting aerial sporting action globally and it is a true reflection of Dubai’s soaring spirit of enterprise as well as the human capacity to overcome challenges. The event also goes to highlight Dubai’s uniqueness and boundless energy in presenting to the world novel ideas that combine innovation, adventure and ambition that push the boundaries of human imagination and open the way for still greater achievements and innovations across the world.”

The announcement about the launch of the race came during a fascinating ceremony at Burj Park, next to the Burj Khalifa. The event saw Saeed Hareb, Secretary-General of the Dubai Sports Council; Richard Browning, Founder and Chief Test Pilot of Gravity Industries; and Samer Al Shammari, Director of the Race, address a large gathering comprising media representatives from various countries, specialists in aerial sports, adventurers, and enthusiastic fans who were treated to a live demonstration featuring three competitors in jet suits who went whizzing over the Dubai Fountain next to Burj Park.

During the ceremony, it was announced that an agreement was signed between the Dubai Sports Council and Gravity Industries to organise the “Dubai Jet Suit Race” on 28th February 2024, during the Dubai Boat Show, so that visitors to the exhibition can watch a unique aerial competition. It was also announced that Emirati racer Ahmed Al Shehhi is undergoing special and intense training in Britain to qualify to participate in the first race of its kind in the world.

The jet suit racing competition will be held in the area between Dubai Harbor and Skydive Dubai, with the chosen expanse of water and its depth found to be suitable for the sport. Competitors will turn out in specially designed suits designed with a focus on health and safety aspects including protection from drowning and extra buoyancy.

Saeed Hareb said, “Under the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai Sports Council is always striving to bring novel and distinguished sporting events to the city in cooperation with various international organisers, and this race will be a new and unique addition to the list of such showcases not only in Dubai but globally as well. It will add another unforgettable event to the local sports calendar and for our diverse audience comprising different nationalities, marking the start of a new era in the world of aerial sports. We are pleased that among the participants in this historic event is an Emirati racer from the XDubai team, and we wish him all success in illumining the name of the UAE in this new sport."

Hareb thanked RTA, Dubai Police, SKYDIVE Dubai and X DUBAI for their support in organising the event. He added, “The extraordinary seafront district with its unique backdrop and iconic vistas, Dubai Harbour, the waterfront overlooking the Palm Island, and the Dubai Marina district will be the scene of a unique event commensurate with Dubai’s prestigious stature and approach to advancing innovation. Dubai is the ideal venue to launch this amazing event and showcase technology that enables people to fly without a plane. Residents will get to enjoy the event live at Dubai Harbor, as will millions of viewers on television channels and various other media platforms who will experience something they have never seen except in science fiction films.”

Richard Browning and the Gravity Industries team are looking to build upon an incredible journey, having flown at over 260 live events in over 45 countries. The jet suit they developed in 2017 has since been improved to deliver incredible feats of manoeuvrability, precision, and speed.

“Gravity pilots have flown in Dubai multiple times over the last six years and it’s a real pleasure to be coming back with the support of the Dubai Sports Council to deliver a mind-blowing spectacle of what humans and technology can achieve. Our Gravity Race Series promises even more visceral excitement and drama than Formula One has done for decades, updated for the 21st century and airborne,” Browning said.

He added, “We will not be satisfied with organising a flying and racing display only; we also seek to increase the intensity of competition and excitement in the event through the flight path that includes challenges for the competitors that require manoeuvrability, accuracy and flight speed to determine the four best competitors who will then vie for the top three places and take the podium."

Samer Al-Shammari, Race Director, said, “We are pleased to host this first of its kind tournament in Dubai Harbour, the region’s most unique lifestyle destination. Winning requires high skill in flying using a jet suit, to provide the best performance while flying on the path specified by the organisation committee, which includes various challenges. Our commitment extends beyond organising the event, but to also attract more people to this sport, ensuring its continued growth.”

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