DUBAI // The rivalry between Formula One champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso lives on at Yas Marina Circuit – or at least, at Gitex Shopper 2013.
Screeching tyres and revving engines drew shoppers to a mock F1 car inside the World Trade Centre as part of a BlackBerry promotion.
Shoppers squeezed into the driver’s seat of a glistening blue and black car and concentrated fiercely as they tried to race alongside the Briton Hamilton’s Spanish rival.
They grimaced when they temporarily lost control and three large screens flashed images of the Hamilton’s car clipping corners or being yellow-flagged for overtaking in restricted areas.
“I came last but I’m usually good on the PS3,” said Salim Remmam, a sales manager from Lebanon.
“I’m used to doing the full 60 laps but naturally then I pause for food or talk to friends. But this was fun.”
Another shopper, Yasin Ahmed from Pakistan, said it was entertaining to pretend to speed around the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix circuit for three laps.
“I crashed many times because I was not used to the speeds and brake,” said Mr Ahmed, who planned to buy a BlackBerry Z10 for a relative. “These are smart marketing tools that consumers remember and talk about.”
Shoppers who buy a BlackBerry smartphone at Gitex Shopper can test their skills in Hamilton’s Mercedes AMG car.
On Monday, shop assistants walked around holding up posters displaying the time to beat, with the fastest time clocked so far being 1 minute and 57 seconds.
Technicians adjusted the speed and the weather variables to an easy level where participants had a shot at winning the chance to meet Hamilton when he races at the GP next month.
“This is the coolest part of our promotion at Gitex,” said Christophe Corsi, UAE director for BlackBerry.
“This is a total consumer experience of test driving Hamilton’s car as if on the Yas Marina Circuit. It is the first time this has been done in the UAE.”
This is BlackBerry’s first appearance at Gitex and Mr Corsi said the UAE continued to be a strong market for the company.
The smartphone brand placed number three in the UAE and number two in Saudi Arabia, in a recent survey by market research company GfK.
“We have a loyal base in the UAE and this showing at Gitex shows how we are doing,” Mr Corsi said.
“We are here, we’re selling and we are here to support our customers.”