x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Fans thrilled as they secure free tickets to Abu Dhabi F1 gigs

Fans queue up to win tickets to see Jay Z during Formula One concert series.

Jay Z performs at the Wireless Festival at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London last month. Jim Ross / Invision /AP
Jay Z performs at the Wireless Festival at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London last month. Jim Ross / Invision /AP

DUBAI // The excitement was electric as hundreds of music lovers gathered today to discover the final act in this year’s Yasalam F1 After-race concert series.

Some waited as long as 11 hours at Virgin Megastore in Mall of the Emirates to hear the announcement and get their hands on free tickets.

The queue stretched across the store but a DJ booth kept the visitors entertained until the final act was unveiled as superstar American rapper and producer Jay Z.

“My brother Rishank and I were the first ones to arrive at 5.30am,” said Nikbit, 17, from India. “I came so early because I’m a big fan of Formula One and I’ve been looking to get tickets for a long time but I have never been able to afford it.

“This was a chance for free tickets so I thought might as well reach out and grasp it – I was thrilled to be the first person to get them.”

He was the first of 200 people who were given free tickets to the concerts. The first 40 also got three-day race passes.

Sitting on a bean bag a few rows behind Nikbit was Pierce, 16,  from Manchester, who arrived at 9am.

“We got here at 9am and there were already nine people here, so we’re numbers 10 and 11,” he said.

Although the queueing had started outside the store by then, not many people were aware of the shop’s opening times. “When we got here in the morning we were really happy because that meant we were part of the winners, but we had no idea when the store opened or where we had to go,” Pierce said.

“The people around us were also waiting and they weren’t letting anyone go through, so it was good we all got near the front.”

Pierce said his love of F1 was his reason for going to the mall.

“I’m a really big fan of motorsports, I do go-kart racing in the UAE,” he said. “The F1 tickets are quite expensive so any chance I can get to get hold of them for free is an opportunity I wanted to take.

“I’m off school so I’ve got nothing else to do.”

People in the queue were allowed to leave the line to go to the bathroom or to bring back food as long as they informed security guards.

“We’ve been taking turns to keep our space here,” Pierce said.

Mohammed Ali Rommal, 20, from Lebanon, also queued from 9am in a bid for tickets.

“I’ve been waiting since then to get the chance to be one of the first 40 to get a three-day pass to the Grand Prix and the concert tickets,” he said, after spending all day dancing and playing cards as he waited.

“I guessed there was be a 90 per cent chance it would be Jay Z and I’m glad it is because he’s a legend of rap.”