Dubai to host world’s first jet suit race

It will be held on February 28, during the Dubai Boat Show, so that visitors to the exhibition can watch the unique aerial competition

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A Staff Reporter

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A live demonstration of jet suit race featuring three competitors who went whizzing over the Dubai Fountain. — Supplied photo
A live demonstration of jet suit race featuring three competitors who went whizzing over the Dubai Fountain. — Supplied photo

Published: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 8:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 11:10 PM

The Dubai Sports Council has announced the launch of Dubai Jet Suit Race, which will be the first sporting contest in the world featuring opponents who go aerial without the aid of an aircraft. Instead, competitors will rely on suits equipped with jet engines to navigate a predetermined course.

Held under the patronage and directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, the event is organised in cooperation with Gravity Industries. It will be held on February 28, during the Dubai Boat Show, so that visitors to the exhibition can watch the unique aerial competition.

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, confirmed that the event will see eight contestants from different countries vying for top honours, including the UAE’s Ahmed Al Shehhi. 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.

Officials and competitors at the announcement of the Dubai Jet Suit Race. — Supplied photo
Officials and competitors at the announcement of the Dubai Jet Suit Race. — Supplied photo

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. 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.

Hareb said the race will add another unforgettable event to the local sports calendar. "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.”

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He 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.”

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Richard Browning and the Gravity Industries team have 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.

Samer Al Shammari 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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