Sailing-No Iran risk to UAE America's Cup venue, say organisers

DUBAI, Aug 17 (Reuters) - America’s Cup organisers dismissed security concerns from BMW-Oracle team founder Larry Ellison, saying on Monday Iran posed no threat to the event due to be held off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Software tycoon Ellison said last week the safety risks of making Ras al-Khaimah the port for next February’s race were underestimated, citing proximity to Iran.

“Today there is no state of war in Iran and this is a peaceful place so there is no problem at all,” Khater Massaad, chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), said by telephone. “Why do we suddenly have to raise the concern of safety?

“There are over four million foreigners living in this country. Nobody should have any concerns because Ras al-Khaimah is part of the UAE, which is one of the safest countries in the world.”

Switzerland’s Alinghi team, backed by billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, have the right to choose the venue as the defending champions but opponents BMW-Oracle are unhappy the location was chosen without their mutual consent.

Ras al-Khaimah, one of seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates is separated from Iran by the Gulf. The emirate is less developed than UAE capital Abu Dhabi and tourism hub Dubai.

Massaad said preparations for yachting’s most prestigious race were on track with dredging work on an artificial island to help create a lagoon underway.

Editing by Kevin Fylan; to query or comment on this story email