x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 October 2017

Prince rocks Yas Arena as royals, stars and fans enjoy glamour

Kings, prime ministers, billionaires and superstars among famous faces spotted at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, walks with Bernie Ecclestone on the starting grid prior to the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. On the left are King Juan Carlos of Spain and Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon.
His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, walks with Bernie Ecclestone on the starting grid prior to the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. On the left are King Juan Carlos of Spain and Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon.

ABU DHABI // Prince, known for flamboyant costumes and high-octane performances, did not disappoint last night.

Decked out in a black and red suit and a red shirt with an oversized collar, the rock star treated thousands of fans at a packed Yas Arena to a show that was fun, high-energy and dramatic.

Wielding a custom guitar with a leopard-print strap and playing on a simple stage, he kept the crowd singing, even calling on the audience to chant "Oh, Abu Dhabi".

He opened his dynamic set with his hit song Let's Go Crazy, and followed that with Kiss, 1999, and Delirious.

Prince's female backup singers wore jewelled kaftans and ethnic jewellery, and the singer himself wore heeled shoes and some outrageous jewellery before changing into a ruffled purple shirt to wind the crowd up with the classic Purple Rain.

Singer Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, the girlfriend of yesterday's second-place race finisher, Lewis Hamilton, joined Prince onstage for his encore.

Earlier, the royals, world leaders and stars who joined Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, at Yas Marina Circuit included King Abdullah II of Jordan, King Juan Carlos of Spain and the UK billionaire Sir Richard Branson.

The Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and Hugh Grant were also rumoured to be among the rich and famous taking part in the action on the luxury yachts moored in Yas Marina.

Tennis legend Boris Becker, a repeat visitor to the event, and the Manchester City footballer Patrick Vieira were spotted on the grid before yesterday's race.

World leaders who watched the race included Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon, and Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain.

Sheikh Khalifa said: "Sport is one of the most crucial sectors on which the state's strategy is focusing to promote tourism and deliver the highest rates of growth through optimum investment of development projects of international dimension in order to position the UAE as one of most attractive destinations on the regional and international tourism map."

The British model Kelly Brook and pop group Sugababes brought some glamour to the red carpets.

Also among the notable guests on race day were the opera singer Placido Domingo, Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz and Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Down at the marina, business leaders and royalty, including Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco, relaxed on exclusive yachts.

Toby Scruby, a sales executive for Benetti yachts, said enjoying the race from the vessels was "exhilarating", adding: "This is where the action is."

He and other guests said they were excited to head to after-parties at Amber Lounge and Allure, a new nightclub at Yas Marina and Yacht Club operated by New York-based Cipriani.

jthomas@thenational.ae

econroy@thenational.ae