Sharjah's Al Bayader Desert is set to welcome thousands of visitors and petrol heads who will participate in the much-awaited first Sharjah Sports Desert Festival (SSDF 2017), which commences today (Thursday).Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, the two-day event aims to attract desert and safari motorsport enthusiasts from the UAE and beyond to enjoy the first-of-its-kind desert off-roading experience in Sharjah.Organised by Sharjah Sports Channel, a subsidiary of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), SSDF 2017 will feature an array of events and competitions, a number of which have been formulated for professional contestants and others for non-competing spectators, with the aim of offering all family members an unforgettable experience.
Themed ‘Become a Desert Hero,’ SSDF 2017 contestants will participate in three vehicle classes. Entrants in the Buggy Quad Bikes category and in the MX1 and MX2 vehicle category will compete in ‘Enduro Knockout’ challenges, while participants in the Side X Side vehicle category will compete in a ‘Time Trail’ challenge. There will also be a number of off-road motorcycle races.For non-competing spectators, SSDF 2017 offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the desert ambiance of Al Badayer, where they can make the most of a variety of activities, including a safari tour from Al Badayer desert to Mleiha in Sharjah. Visitors can also participate in a number of desert sports in safety and comfort.Designed to be an all-inclusive affair, SSDF 2017 has an array of entertainment offerings for younger members of the family, with its Kids Zone hosting sand painting, balloon bending and white henna painting. A ‘Flames of Wonder’ show will be also performed twice a day by expert pyro technicians.
A key aspect of SSDF 2017 sees it as a platform for prominent brands specialising in desert sports in the UAE. The event is being supported by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the independent government entity that is committed to establishing Sharjah as an investment, tourist and business destination, as well as developing the emirate's cultural heritage and natural landscapes.Rashid Al Obed, Director of Sharjah Sports Channel, said: "We have worked extremely hard over the past few weeks to put everything in place and to finalise all the arrangements for what will be a spectacular festival. We are proud to announce that the venue ready for SSDF 2017 to get underway. The event offers the perfect opportunity for off-road and desert racing enthusiasts to showcase their skills in front of a large audience.” “Our main aim behind organising the Sharjah Desert Sports Festival is to establish an outstanding sporting and entertainment event that brings together safari motorsport fans. We have laid on a programme of activities that caters to all family members, including children who have a specially designated corner. We are anticipating two days of exciting, adrenaline-filled races," he added.
With a racetrack designed by Emirati motocross star Mohammed Al Balooshi, SSDF 2017 is the first-of-its-kind desert off-roading experience in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates. The MX rally champion was crowned Tunisia Arab Champion for the second year in a row in 2010 and also led the Red Bull ‘Under My Wings’ project in the UAE. Al Balooshi, who was the first Emirati to participate in the Dakar Rally, will be monitoring the racing events to ensure that the contestants adhere to the festival’s rules and regulations. Sharjah Sports Channel is giving exclusive broadcast coverage of the two-day event to allow enthusiastic armchair spectators to watch it live at home.Strategically located on the Dubai-Hatta Road, Al Badayer Desert is one of the UAE’s most important winter desert destinations, renowned for its dunes and the beauty of its desert nature. The location attracts outdoor adventurers who make the most of its rugged environment to go camping, take Safari trips and enjoy challenging off-road driving.