The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum left luminous fingerprints in the history of marine sports in the United Arab Emirates in general and the traditional races in particular, since its beginning in the late seventies. His continuous support led to the flourishing of local marine sports and the establishment of the Dubai International Marine Club in 1988.
The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum contributed greatly to its development with his continuous and generous support, until these races became one of the most important sporting events in the UAE calendar. The events attracted a large number of people from the society.
He developed many ideas and in the year 1991 marks the start of the biggest traditional dhow sailing race the "Al Gaffal" followed by a number of initiatives which include the development of the 43ft Dhow Sailing Race , 22ft Dhow Sailing Race and the 30ft Traditional Rowing Race behind the success of it was the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which became popular in practice of the many people in the state.
The Al Gaffal Long Distance Race (Sir Bu Nair Island to Dubai Beaches ) which was launched in 1991 with the idea of the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, will be always remembered. The race was held to remind them of the past sacrifices of parents and grandparents in their quest to find a livelihood and the search for abundant livelihood in the sea, which constituted a safe haven for the people of the region and the Arabian Gulf and a source of abundant livelihood.
The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum was keen to organized a heritage festival which is not just a race but carries meaning with it, that embodies the cultural heritage in the people of the Emirates, which reflected positively on all family members from the old to the young which made the event turn into a festival. An authentic heritage festival that gathers more than 5,000 people in the Gulf waters to revive this historical past that confirms people keenness in to participate in the maritime event.
He is keen since the event's inception, to attend all the races that were held throughout the past years to the island of Sir Bu Nair, one day before setting off to meet with the sailors and boat owners and to tell them about everything that matters about the heritage race and the importance of reaching the message of the race thru various media platform and sports affairs aspect.
He continued to follow the event as it began, and stood on every small and large, and contributed a lot to its development, when experience revealed that the 43-foot dhow boats that participated in the first three versions of the race in the years 1991, 1992 and 1993 are too small and weak to withstand the arduous race. He instructed to make stronger and safer ships, so that they meet the safety standards.
He then ordered the 60-foot class of dhow boats in a trial race in 1993, which successfully paid off. After that, the new class was approved, and the race is reserved only for ships at 60 feet in 1994. Despite the many attempts over the past years to include other types of boats, as well as local sailing ships in this race, The late Sheikh Hamdan emphasized the importance of preserving the authenticity, and not inserting anything that would change the milestones of history. Throughout the course of the event, the late Sheikh Hamdan provided great and generous support for the development and continuation of the race, and this was demonstrated by the great generosity since the race was established, which motivated the participants and raised the value of prize money.
1991: The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed the organization of the first edition of Al Gaffal race.
1993: The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum instructed the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum to announce the 60-ft Dubai Traditional Dhow Sailing Race in conjunction with the third edition of the Al Gaffal race to be approved for the event after that
1997: The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed to announce the 30ft Dubai Traditional Rowing Race.
1999: The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed the 22ft Dubai Traditional Dhow Sailing Race to be the academy that graduates future sailors.
2014: The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed the organization of the Al Yamamah race for the 60ft Dubai Traditional Dhow Sailing Race.
2019: The late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed that the prizes of the Al Gaffal race to be raised to 12 million dirhams.