ABU DHABI // Sir Paul McCartney, Britney Spears, The Cult and Incubus will perform in the capital this November as part of the Yasalam 2011 concert series.
After weeks of speculation, the organisers of the Formula One concert series confirmed their final billing yesterday.
The US pop princess Spears will perform at Yas Arena on November 11.
The Cult and Incubus will take the stage on November 12 and perhaps the biggest name in pop music, McCartney, the former Beatle, will perform after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 13.
"I have been dying to share this news with friends and family," said Shatha Al Romaithi, the spokesman for the organiser Flash Entertainment, at the programme unveiling.
"This is the largest, citywide, dynamic event in the region. It still has the same three pillars: Live on the Corniche, Live across the City and Live on Yas Island."
The Yasalam Live on Yas Island concerts will be open only to those with F1 tickets.
But there is a chance for those not attending the race to see Spears, with 5,000 pairs of tickets to be distributed by Flash to people who have registered their details online at yasalam.ae.
Live performances on the Corniche will include shows by the British R&B singer Jay Sean, the singer-songwriter Example, the former Fugees crooner Wyclef Jean and DJ Fatboy Slim, alongside the Lebanese star Najwa Karam and the Emirati singer Aryam, at the Beats on the Beach series from November 9 to 12.
The local groups Juliana Down and The Recipe are also set to perform.
The unexpected announcement that McCartney will perform in the final event at Yas Arena was big news.
"If I had to pick one of the concerts to attend, I'd choose Paul McCartney without hesitation," said Hayley Thompson, 25, a communications professional.
McCartney will be bringing his On the Run Tour to the UAE for his first concert in the country, his website says.
And although she was hotly tipped to be performing, particularly after a post by the celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, the confirmation that Spears will be appearing was well received. The Grammy Award-winning hitmaker has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity after finding a semblance of balance in her much-publicised personal life.
Spears will arrive in Abu Dhabi as part of her Femme Fatale tour, between shows in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro.
Twitter was abuzz with the news, moments after the announcement was made.
"I will see Britney Live in Two Months! So Excited!" tweeted Saif, a Spears fan living in the UAE, going under the handle @BSDrivesMeCrazy.
"I'm still in shock," tweeted another local Spears follower going by the name of Cash Flipstep.
Additional attractions for this year's Grand Prix entertainment schedule include Cinema by the Sea, where films will be screened for free at the Al Sahil Beach between October 31 and November 3. Included is Senna, the acclaimed documentary about the F1 racing legend Ayrton Senna.
There will also be a short-film festival, Tropfest Arabia, which is an offshoot of the world's largest short film festival, held annually in Australia. The free event will take place on November 4 for the first time in the Middle East.
Entries from across the region will be screened at Al Sahil Beach.
A panel of judges comprising recognised Arab film-makers will award prizes for the entries, including a trip to Los Angeles and up to Dh100,000 in cash.
Cut&Paste Abu Dhabi, a competition to design a racetrack, will take place at the Abu Dhabi Corniche on November 5.
Eight emerging designers will be invited to create fantasy racetracks live on stage, with their computer displays projected on large screens for the audience as they work. The winner gets a trip to New York to take part in the next Cut&Paste event.
* With additional reporting by Saeed Saeed