ABU DHABI // They strained and sweated for two and a half years to build one of the country's most ambitious developments. Come Sunday, a lucky few will see the fruits of their labour first-hand when they join the crowd of 50,000 for the Grand Prix. Ten construction workers have won three-day passes for the race and concerts. Their prizes came from Aldar, the company that developed the 5.55km Yas Marina Circuit.
The gift was "a thank you for their great efforts", said Steve Worrell, the director of mixed use development for the Yas Island project. The company did not say how it selected the winners. Almost 25,000 workers are putting the largely cosmetic finishing touches to the circuit before it opens to the public tomorrow. The rest of the workers will be able to watch the race on screens installed in the recreation rooms and mess halls of their accommodation village on the island, or take a shuttle to the Corniche to watch it on the big screens at the beach.
Tomorrow afternoon, all ticket holders will get their first glimpse of an island that has been inaccessible until now. The pit lane will be open, and fans will have an opportunity to see teams prepare for Sunday's race and possibly meet some of the 20 drivers taking part. The final touches being added today bring to an end a frantic few months of activity. At the height of construction, more than 41,000 people worked on Yas Island, and it took more than 184 million man hours to complete the project.
Work will start again soon after the last fans have left the island on Sunday night. In the next phase of construction, the interior of Ferrari World, the 200,000-square-metre theme park, will be fitted with rides. It should be completed by next year's race. Meanwhile, the buildup to the weekend continued last night with the first concert in the Beats on the Beach series on the Corniche. The Kamal Musallam Group, a trio from Jordan, got things started, and their unique take on modern jazz tunes set bare toes tapping.
Other performers last night were the Lebanese singer Myriam Fares and the South African fusion group Freshlyground. They were the first of 17 acts to play as part of the five-night programme. Others will include the Grammy Award-winning Timbaland and the reggae group The Wailers. Tonight's performances start at 7.30pm and will include acrobatics, pop music and stand-up comedy. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
With additional reporting by Matt Kwong