Sultan Hareb is a youngster making waves in a sport that has only seen ripples from UAE competitors in the past. Despite being a nation of traditionally seafaring folk, little impact has been made in the field of modern sailing, which is a fast-growing global sport. Nineteen-year-old Hareb is an ambitious young sailor hoping to change that, and he chose the biggest sporting arena possible to be seen for the first time by the world's sporting eye. Dubai International Marine Club recently hosted the ISAF World Sailing Championship which included a team from the UAE for the first time. Little was expected from the competitive rookies who were rubbing shoulders with the world's best, but Hareb stood out as an exceptional talent in the making in the championship's blue chip event - the single-handed Laser class. Competing against Olympic and World champions, Hareb secured some impressive finishes over the nine-day event, which culminated in Britain's Olympic silver medallist Ben Ainslee grabbing the title.
Hareb climbed through the field to mid-table as the event progressed, not bad considering he took up the sport just one year ago. "Previously, I had only competed in races with 10 or 11 other boats so to suddenly be at the starting line with 75 competitors was a big challenge," he said. "The World Championship was very tough for me but it was a good learning experience." The man responsible for bringing the locals up to standard is Barrie Harmsworth. He is well aware of the tough challenge, given the head start other countries have had on the likes of Hareb. "The World Championships showed that the talent is here and these boys are keen to learn and improve," he said. "Hareb did exceptionally well and is a huge prospect for the future." Despite the summer heat, Hareb can be seen at Dubai International Marine Club most days striving to improve his sailing skills. All this despite being a full time student studying graphic design at the American University. That sort of dedication is usually rewarded and only time will tell whether he will sink or swim in the world of international competitive sailing. "I want to be number one in the Gulf for Laser boats," he said. "I am not the best in the UAE yet because there are some very good sailors but I will keep trying to get better."