ABU DHABI // A carnival atmosphere descended on the bustling Corniche last night as the first weekend of the Yasalam programme kicked off the lead-up to the Formula One race.
Last night was the second evening for Cinema by the Sea, which showed the car-themed films Knight Rider and Transformers on a giant screen at Al Sahil beach. The event, held in the F1 FanZone, featured BMX stunt exhibitions and radio controlled cars.
Noura Waleed, from Lebanon, brought her six-year-old son, Faisal, to watch Knight Rider.
"He is mad about Formula One now," she said. "He loved everything that happened last year. I was never interested in it but I have learned a lot about it from my son and my husband and I think this year is very exciting."
The final race of the season and possible title decider will be held on Yas Island on November 14.
In another of the FanZone's attractions, fans could sit in a F1 Ferrari and experiment with the same tools as those used in the grand prix.
Vince Bouguerel, 33, a mechanic in the French air force, succeeded in taking a wheel off and replacing it in 20 seconds - proving he is not yet crew material.
"It was easy but in a real race, they take just four seconds to change the wheels," he said. "There is obviously a lot more pressure involved. This is just a bit of fun."
Youngsters could also drive battery powered cars around a track at a children's driving school.
On November 7, there will be live screenings of the Brazilian Grand Prix in the F1 FanZone. Five drivers are in the running for the title, with the Spaniard Fernando Alonso in lead position. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be shown live in the FanZone a week later.
From November 10 to 13 local, regional and international artists including Nancy Ajram, Kelis, Sean Paul and The Cuban Brothers will perform as part of a concert series dubbed Beats on the Beach.
The Yasalam programme will culminate on Yas Island in the after-race concerts, exclusively for F1 ticket holders and invited guests. A full schedule of Yasalam events can be found at www.yasalam.ae.