Dubai Raft Race at Mina Seyahi 1988
Dubai's Raft Race was first held on Dubai Creek in 1971. It had rapidly grown in popularity and size such that the Dubai Creek venue soon became unsuitable. Mina Seyahi was one of several Fishing Harbours built by Sheikh Rashid in response to Fishermen's demands for their own harbours. They were disgruntled that Sheikh Rashid had built Port Rashid but they had no protected harbours along Jumeirah Beach to help them. Sheikh Rashid agreed and Mina Seyahi opened in 1977.
Moving Dubai's Raft Race to Mina Seyahi
Mina Seyahi is a simple rockwall harbour that quickly became popular as an unofficial beach and boating resort. Jebel Ali Sailing Club moved to Mina Seyahi and luxury yachts began to moor in the harbour. Mina Seyahi became home to Dubai's Raft Race in 1978. There were both logistical and commercial reasons for the move. Lack of shore line space made running the Raft Race on Dubai Creek increasingly difficult as Dubai's population increased and more people wanted to see the Raft Race. More companies were establishing in Dubai in mid 1970s. This meant more Teams to accommodate which led to scheduling problems given the narrow window based on Tides. But the main reason for moving the Raft Race to Mina Seyahi was MONEY!!!
I remember it [the Raft Race]was a lot of fun but made no money! We did so yearly with moderate success until 1974 when Dubai's first colour TV station was built. A local businessman donated a 14inch Sony Colour TV Set as the raffle prize. That year Dubai Creek Football Club made 90,000 Dirhams from the event! We moved the event to the new Mina Seyahi to attract more people!
Steve Camm Dubai Raft Race Organiser 1969-1978
Dubai's Raft Race gets in the way of Progress
Mina Seyahi had a lot more space and Dubai's Raft Race began to fill the space available. More Teams, more classes, more entertainment, more catering and more sponsorship turned Dubai's Raft Race into a major social and entertainment event. Races for both men's and women's teams, novelty rafts, prizes for ingenuity and creativity attracted so many of Dubai population that Dubai Police were required to regulate crowds and parking. Given the boisterous atmosphere at the event, Dubai Police sometimes had to deal with some difficult incidents but they did so with good humour. Raft Race was now promoted by the International Travel Industry as one of Dubai's attractions. But then development of Palm Island transformed Mina Seyahi into the New Mina Seyahi and Dubai's Raft Race disappeared from their Programme of Events.