Dashing into Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi takes a star turn on the world stage this week as The Amazing Race – the nine-time Emmy-winning reality TV series that’s seen by more than 10 million viewers in the US and globally in more than 100 countries – shines its light on the UAE over two episodes, today and on November 17.
Now in its 23rd season, the latest edition of this race-around-the-world competition sees 11 teams travel through four continents and nine countries, spanning more than 35,000 miles, as they paraglide high above Iquique, Chile, take a bone-chilling plunge in Norway and buckle up for Formula One racing here in Abu Dhabi, as they compete for US$1 million (Dh3.7).
In today’s episode, Speed Dating is the Worst, the teams arrive from Austria to the UAE – the halfway point of their trip – to boil a few tyres around the Yas Marina Circuit.
But this show never does “easy”; to reach the cars, the competitors will rappel down nearly 200 feet (61 metres) from the top of the Yas Viceroy.
Testing their nerves on the speedway will be an Amazing Race cast that includes two former NFL teammates, professional baseball players’ wives, LA Kings Ice Crew Girls, theatre performers and ER doctors.
Also highlighted during their Abu Dhabi adventure is the architectural splendour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with its 82 domes, 1,000-plus columns, 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand-knotted woven carpet, with room for 40,000 worshippers.
In the November 17 episode, One Hot Camel, the teams will converge on the Garden City, Al Ain – the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed, the founding president of the UAE – to begin the eighth leg of their journey en route to Bandung, Indonesia.
Previously, Dubai got two shots of glory on The Amazing Race, in 2004 and 2009, in the show’s fifth and 15th seasons, respectively.
“One of the things that I’m most proud of on Amazing Race, is that we have a unique opportunity in prime-time television to share the good things that the world has to offer,” says the show’s globetrotting host Phil Keoghan.
“For the most part, in network prime-time television when people are exposed to what’s going on in the rest of the world, they are looking at a war, a natural disaster, civil unrest, they are looking at what’s wrong ... And so I think people’s perception of the world is unfortunately tainted one way, based on the fact that it’s mostly news that determines whether somebody gets to see another country.”
The New Zealander has nothing but praise and appreciation for the warm hospitality of Abu Dhabi and other host nations for “inviting us, meaning our cameras, our viewers, our racers, into their homes and into their country, and I think it does open people’s eyes”.
“We’re thrilled to be part of the 23rd season of this award-winning reality programme,” says HE Mubarak R Al Nuaimi, the director of promotions and overseas offices.
“This top-ranked show is seen around the world by millions of viewers and will truly elevate Abu Dhabi as a must-visit destination in the eyes of travellers everywhere. The show will help build awareness of what to do and see in Abu Dhabi and platforms such as these showcase the wonderful diversity and unique experiences that are only found in our emirate.”
• The Amazing Race is not broadcast in the UAE, but season 23 episodes are available for download from websites such as Amazon.com