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MainSail in January

CNN MainSail host, Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson, asked whether the Middle East is the next world sailing capital.
CNN MainSail host, Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson, asked whether the Middle East is the next world sailing capital.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mainsail takes an in-depth look at the Middle East as a top sailing destination
  • Shirley Robertson visits Oman for a ride on a traditional 'sewn plank' dhow
  • Mainsail looks at the state of the business world in the region and the burgeoning marine trade

CNN -- With the high profile detention of five British sailors by the Iranian Navy in December 2009, some have started to question the Middle East as a viable sailing destination.

The area certainly has history - Arab nations in the region boast a rich maritime tradition stretching back to Sinbad the Sailor, and ancient Indian Ocean trade routes central to the spice trade through the last two millennia.

Many astronomy, cartography, navigation and boat building techniques common in today's maritime world have their origins in the Middle East. The sea is as much a part of 'Arabia' as the sand.

But is the Middle East the world sailing capital of the future?

This month, Mainsail takes an in-depth look at the region as sailing re-emerges in the modern world. Shirley Robertson visits Oman for a ride on a traditional 'sewn plank' dhow, newly built using ancient methods -- 40,000 stitches, not one nail.

The old gives way to the new as Shirley takes the wheel of a state of the art 21st century racing trimaran, one of the largest in the world, built to inspire ocean racing on new courses in the Indian Ocean. Is history taking a new shape in the modern world?

In Dubai, 60 ft dhows race each other in the shadow of high rise hotels, but is the reported financial crash affecting yachting?

CNN Mainsail looks at the state of the business world in the region and the burgeoning marine trade and what the future holds in store for manufacturers, builders, and event organizers.

In exclusive interviews, the Bahrain Team Pindar sailors give a different perspective on the safety of the region following their release from Iranian captivity -- is the Arabian Gulf really a safe place to sail?

Further reports feature Ras Al Khaimah, in the UAE, where the Swiss America's Cup defenders Alinghi have finished training and packed up for Valencia ahead of the 33rd America's Cup, Abu Dhabi, where luxury and wealth meet top class sport, and the Sydney Hobart race in Australia.