Wet, wild and safe

Stay safe and have fun on the beaches of Abu Dhabi Discuss this article

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Between sandy grub and overly snug beach attire, getting involved with aquatic activities is a dangerous business. There are bigger worries – drowning for example – that can really spoil a good day in the water. Recently launched by the Critical National Infrastructure Authority, the Bihar campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding our favourite maritime activities, and offers crucial pointers to help us stay safe at sea. We asked Shaikha Al Neaimi, coordinator of the campaign, for some life-saving tips.  


Sailing

How to keep safe: Looking the part at sea is obviously crucial, just don’t forget to fuel up the motor while you’re pressing your white captain’s slacks and polishing your aviators. Believe it or not, this is a common mistake in the city’s waters, leaving sailors stranded when winds drop. ‘Check and double check all of your equipment before setting sail,’ advises Shaikha. ‘It’s all about being prepared.’ And if things still somehow go awry? ‘Keep a mobile phone on board and call 996 to alert the coastguard.’

Where to do it: Abu Dhabi International Sailing School is one of the city’s cheaper options, and, with lessons for both kids and adults available, they don’t look down on newbies. However, they do ask that only strong swimmers get involved. Make of that what you will.
Opposite Marina Mall, next to Havana Café, Ras Al Akhdar (02 681 3446)

Jet Skiing

How to keep safe: It’s a given that you’ll want folks to appreciate how effortlessly cool you look tearing through the ocean like some rocket-powered dolphin, but it’s important to maintain a respectful distance from your adoring spectators. ‘You can’t go too close to the beach where people are swimming’, warns Shaikha. And she’s right. Nor should you venture out before making sure your keys are attached to either your wrist or lifejacket, no matter how confident you are on your seafaring steed.

Where to do it: Empros offers classes for watersports enthusiasts of all abilities – even complete beginners. Saddle up and take to the waves around sunset for a spectacular view, just remember to leave plenty of time to get back to base before it gets dark.
InterContinental Hotel, Al Bateen, www.empros.ae (02 667 9776)

Swimming

How to keep safe: Those looking to make a splash at the beach need to remember that the sea is a far less forgiving mistress than your local pool. Weather conditions – and therefore water currents – are changeable, even in Abu Dhabi’s climate, so avoid getting out of your depth. And then there are the little ones to worry about. ‘Children should never be allowed in the water unsupervised’, Shaikha says. Armbands are easily punctured on sharp rocks, so either accompany the kids for a dip or keep a close eye on them.

Where to do it: There’s the public beach, obviously, but you’ll find that it gets extremely busy on a fine day, especially at the weekends. The Beach Rotana is a good choice for those lacking confidence, offering private classes for kids in a separate pool, leaving you to work on your Hasselhoff-in-Baywatch impression, or simply lounge by the surf.
Beach Rotana, Tourist Club Area, www.rotana.com (02 697 9000)

Fishing

How to keep safe: Strapping on a life vest and picking up a fishing licence (available from Mina Port’s Unified Center) before heading out to catch your supper goes without saying, but there are other points for the city’s fish-botherers to take into consideration. Check that your tackle complies with the most recent regulations to ensure you’re not leaving anything in the water that could harm nearby swimmers and, if using nets, be sure to retrieve them. ‘Certain types don’t allow fish to escape, so they’ll be trapped there for hours and eventually die,’ says Shaikha.

Where to do it: Round up a gang of anglers and take advantage of Sea Tourism’s popular excursions. They last for three hours and include refreshments and equipment for up to eight people, all for Dhs1,400.
Villa 23, Royal Marina Villas, behind Marina Mall, www.seatourism.net (02 681 3064)
For more information on CNIA’s guidelines on maritime safety, visit www.bihar.ae

By David Clack
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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