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Fractional Life in Abu Dhabi: revelations, racing cars and rollercoasters

Date: 2011-03-03 13:53:24

The Fractional Life and Fractional Trade crew headed for pastures new in November, for the inaugural Shared Ownership Fractional Summit Middle East. The event was held at the stunning Yas Hotel, a futuristic creation on Yas Island, right next to a marina and the Formula 1 track.

Fractional Summit UAE Ferrari World

Motorsport was to be an ever-present theme during our time in the UAE. Before the conference got under way, a group of delegates (pictured above) headed off to the newly opened Ferrari World theme park. With more than a few petrol heads among our number, the attraction had something for everyone. The actual building is a hugely impressive construction, although the interior had a slightly unfinished air about it. The best element of the park for most of us was the chance to go on the world's fastest rollercoaster, which is built to emulate the acceleration of a Formula 1 car. It is certainly an experience – the G Force as you hit 150 mph is incredible and at one point I was worried that my contact lenses were going to fly out of my eyes.

You can see some footage of Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso on the rollercoaster here – even he looks a bit shocked by the speed at first! And below is a warning sign to potential riders.

Ferrari World sign

Back to the hotel, which the previous week was host to the Formula 1 teams for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Little did we know that the Formula Renault boys were in town for testing during our stay, and the conference was held to the soundtrack of the screams and howls of highly revved race cars. Music to the ears at first, but if I'm honest I'd had enough after a few hours.

Thankfully the conference room at the hotel was well sound-proofed, and the 75 international delegates were treated to a sterling cast of speakers and some lively debate. The event was kicked off with a keynote speech by Mike Balfour of The Hideaways Club. One of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs – he founded health club chain Fitness First – Balfour told the audience how the fractional ownership concept makes perfect sense in the current economy, and added that he thought it will be successfully applied to new market sectors in the future.

Another highlight was a speech by Sheikh Mubarak Al Suwaiket (pictured below with Piers Brown of Fractional Life) about the huge potential for fractional yacht ownership in the region. Sheikh Mubarak – as well as being the MENA representative for Trinity Yachts and IYC – is also one of the region's most influential businessmen, and was ranked at number 16 in Arabian Business's Rich List. When someone with his influence backs fractional ownership, you can be sure things are about to happen.

Piers and Sh Mubarak Fractionl Summit UAE

A roll call of speakers from a range of influential fractional and timeshare operators, including RCI, Marriott Vacation Club and Arabian Falcon gave a positive outlook for the future, with the consensus being that even in tougher financial times, the region's consumers are still determined to spend money on holidays.

Piers Brown thanked the delegates, media partners and sponsors – RCI, The Registry Collection, Marriott Vacation Club, Creative Action Design, Citadel Trustees, Valhalla Associates, HVS Hospitality Services and écurie 25 – and looked forward to a bigger and better conference next year, before adjourning to the hotel's stunning rooftop bar for a final chance to enjoy the Gulf's balmy evening temperatures before we headed back to London and the delegates spread to all points of the globe.

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