Khorfakkan never saw anything like this before.  The H20 Nations Cup Powerboat Championship 2012 climaxed with a grand thriller on Friday (March 30) with the UAE, the defending champion, putting up a spirited fight to retain its title earned last year in the first Nations Cup held in Singapore. UAE’s Majed Al Mansoori and Rashed Al Tayer emerged the champs in the first position while the second and third position were earned by Qatar’s Khalid Al Shamlan and Khalid Al Kuwari and Finland’s Meeri and Riso Painio.

The winners received their laurels later at a special ceremony. HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority gave away the prizes to the winning teams in the presence of Nicolo di San Germano, President of UIM H20 Racing and international promoter of F1 powerboat racing, Saeed Allay Al Naqbi, Chairman, Khorfakkan Municipal Council and Naser Khamees Al Naqbi, Head of Sharjah Department of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture. Seven international teams representing the UAE, Qatar, Malaysia, Brunei, South Africa, Brazil and Finland took part in the H20 powerboat championship.

The first Nations Cup championship put the tourist paradise in the media spotlight, attracting motorboat sports enthusiasts and thousands of residents and foreign tourists.  The highpoint of the Nations Cup and the cultural and entertainment fair that opened alongside the powerboat championship of course was the thriller on Friday (March 30).

Speaking on the occasion, SCTDA Chairman Al Noman said that the powerboat championship had put Khorfakkan on the global tourism map and would help attract more international visitors and investment to Sharjah’s East Coast.  Describing Khorfakkan as the “hidden jewel” of the East Coast, he said the Sharjah government is keen to develop the region and boost the economy by hosting events like the powerboat championship and developing tourist infrastructure.

Referring to the arrival of increasing number of European cruise travellers in Khorfakkan, he said the renovation of the Oceanic Hotel and the Khorfakkan Luxury Tourist Resort and Spa, being developed by Shurooq, would create world-class facilities and infrastructure for international tourists.

Al Noman said both the culturally-rich Sharjah and the rugged landscape of the East Coast with its golden beaches and great mountains offered international tourists something that they didn’t find elsewhere.   “But we need to promote it more aggressively. It’s still like unexplored territory. We have to tap its immense potential,” he pointed out.

Nicolo di San Germano, the UIM H20 president and event partner who is also associated with the F1 H20 Sharjah Grand Prix, said that the H20 Nations Cup has now established and popularised Khorfakkan’s name and image around the world as these races were telecast around the world.

The SCTDA which hosted the first Nations Cup in the region in association with San Germano’s UIM H20 Racing lined up an exciting fair targeting families and young people as part of the Championship.  From fire and light shows to redemption games and virtual games and from clowns and magicians to archery and airsoft shooting and traditional souqs of Night Bazaar, there was a great deal on offer at the Heritage Village organized on the Khorfakkan beach, catering to all age groups and tastes.

For four days and nights, the beautiful city overlooking the Gulf of Oman witnessed much revelry and carnival atmosphere.

The SCTDA officials said that the H20 Nations Cup would be a permanent feature of Sharjah’s calendar of events that includes the Sharjah Water Festival, Sharjah Grand Prix and Sharjah Light Festival etc.

Event partners of the H20 Nations Cup included Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, Sharjah Department of Seaports and Customs, Municipal Council of Khorfakkan, Sharjah Department of Public Works, Sharjah Civil Defence and Sharjah Police.  Even co-sponsors were Sharjah Mega Mall, Sahara Centre, Royal Beach Hotel and Resorts, Zulal and Al Zahra Hospital.