ABU DHABI // It was a scene uniquely UAE: teenagers alongside women in niqabs and workers enjoying a night off, all there for the breeze, the music and the racing cars.
Yesterday, the Corniche filled with people celebrating the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend at Beats on the Beach, a free concert headlined by Akon, the Senegalese American singer, who stepped in at the last minute to replace rapper Missy Elliot who was stranded in New York due to the storm. She will be performing tomorrow instead. Egyptian star Tamer Hosny and former Spice Girls singer Mel C also performed.
Others were drawn to the Corniche for the F1 FanZone, where children watched miniature racing cars zoom in circles while older boys and grown men waited in line to play racing simulators.
Rinu Paul and Adarsh Prabhakaran, both 24 and from Kerala, were more interested in the cars than the music. Newcomers to Abu Dhabi - they arrived two months ago to work at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel - they peered over a rope at a white racing car.
"It's excellent," Mr Paul said, of the FanZone. "Most of us are very passionate about racing and Formula One ... it's kind of a thrill."
The two had just finished playing a racing game. Mr Prabhakaran pronounced it "scary" but "very nice".
"Nobody won," Mr Paul said. "Everybody crashed."
Salman Shafiq, 34, from Pakistan, was out for a stroll with his wife and daughter when they stumbled on the festival by accident. They discovered their daughter did not want to leave. "She tried some activities like a racing simulator and now she's playing in the sand," he said.
The free activities and music will continue on the Corniche tonight.