Your guide to celeb spotting during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend
The stars will to be out in full force for Abu Dhabi’s Grand Prix, not least because this year’s race is a championship decider. Which celebrities can we expect to see painting the town Ferrari-red this weekend?
Paris Hilton - and Nicole Richie?
Not only is Richie’s dad Lionel Richie singing at Yas Arena on Saturday night, but her old ‘bestie’ Paris Hilton is DJing in the VIP Room party at Cipriani on Friday night, so we think there’s a chance Nicole Richie will make an appearance in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Hilton and Richie both rose to fame on reality TV show The Simple Life in the mid-2000s. Recently, Hilton revealed she’s in talks to bring the semi-scripted series back. “I’ve actually been getting a lot of calls about that,” Hilton told News Corp Australia Network earlier this week. “I’m thinking about it. I’ve been offered a tonne of other reality shows as well that I’ve turned down. But The Simple Life was just such a big part of my life and so iconic ... we’ll see what happens. It would be fun.” Abu Dhabi might be the perfect place for Hilton and Richie to rev up their old friendship.
Lewis Hamilton - and Serena Williams?
Tennis star Williams was spotted last month watching racing driver Lewis Hamilton win the US Grand Prix in Texas, then a week later, she was snapped holding hands with him after he won the Mexican Grand Prix. The following day, they were spotted looking inseparable at Heidi Klum’s Halloween bash. Needless to say, rumours are circulating that the pair could be dating. Although she managed to win Wimbledon, Williams has been off the courts for most of this year battling shoulder and knee injuries, so her schedule might be easily adjusted to accommodate a trip to Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton was single during last year’s Grand Prix, making himself a feathered friend instead -
Hamilton is clearly excited at the prospect of ending his season on a high in Abu Dhabi. On Saturday, he posted a picture of himself in a kandora at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as a memory of last year’s trip.
The grammy-nominated singer and Fast and the Furious actor Tyrese Gibson is a regular face in Abu Dhabi during the grand prix weekend, although more for the opportunity to socialise than for the race itself. On the morning of last year’s final race, Gibson revealed that he’d woken up in a waterbed on board a mega yacht with 30 rooms and five private suites. “I woke up to formula 1 cars roaring... #AbuDhabiyup… A different kind of life...My “access” is never taken for granted....”
He’s visited the UAE several times since then, and is hoping to strike a deal through his company Voltron Entertainment to build a movie studio in Abu Dhabi. “Not only do I love the people of the UAE, I love the feeling I get when I come here... Very significant deals and partnerships are taking place here... Sit on your hands and watch the show,” he wrote back in January.
The Irish star, who plays Ser Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones, is already in Abu Dhabi, where he’s been indulging in a spot of dune bashing. He also made it to Abu Dhabi for last year’s Grand Prix, just before embarking on filming the sixth season of Game of Thrones. Cunningham has been a self-confessed “Formula One groupie” for the last 20 years, but it’s only since finding worldwide fame on Game of Thrones, which is the most downloaded TV show of all time, that he’s been treated differently at the races. “This whole Game of Thrones thing has pulled off my mask in a way,” Cunnngham told F1’s Paddock magazine. “The mechanics of Force India look at me and say ‘hey Liam, it’s good to have you back.’ I’m even getting strange looks from people that I’ve known for 20 years! They never thought of me as an actor.”
The British-Pakistani boxer announced on Instagram that his seat is reserved for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Before hitting the capital, the former unified light-welterweight world champion will be attending a fundraising dinner in Dubai. Khan is known for his lavish lifestyle, splashing out 30,000 pounds (Dh136,000) on a pair of gold-woven shorts for one fight back in 2013, and 100,000 pounds (Dh453,330) for his daughter Lamaisah’s second birthday party in June. Rumours have been circulating about a possible fight between Khan and Manny Pacquiao taking place in the UAE, but nothing has been booked yet.
Drake and Rihanna
We assume that back when arrangements were made for both Drake and Rihanna to perform in Abu Dhabi for the Grand Prix weekend, the two stars were still together. But now, Drake, who is rapping at the VIP Rooms on Friday, and Rihanna, who is taking to the Yas Arena stage on Sunday, are no longer an item, and Drake is rumoured to be dating Taylor Swift. But if things turn ugly between the two, at least Rihanna will have her younger brother, the Hip-hop artist Gallest, in town to back her up. Gallest, whose real name is Rorrey Fenty, is hosting the VIP Room on both the Saturday and Sunday evenings. The siblings are said to be best of friends, and Rihanna bought a beach side house in Barbados for Fenty and gave him cash to support his rap career. Sunday’s VIP Room closing party is a ‘celebrity bash’ with Drake and friends, and ‘surprise celebrity guests.’
One place you won’t catch Rihanna whilst she’s in town is in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. She was asked to leave Abu Dhabi’s number one tourist spot last time she performed in the city three years ago, after posing for photographs in an all-black outfit that was deemed by staff to be unfit for the occasion.
Rumour has it that the African hip hop star has booked up the prestigious Abu Dhabi suite of the St Regis Abu Dhabi Hotel, a 2,200 square-metre “suspended suite” 220 metres up in the air that offers 360-degree panoramic views of the city and the sea. This iconic suite with private entrance boasts three bedrooms, along with a maid’s room; three bathrooms; two powder rooms; and a lounge bar – as well as a cinema, spa with sauna and a gym. Lewis Hamilton will also be stopping by the hotel to host a private meet and greet for SPG
(Starwood Preferred Guest) members.
Updated: November 21, 2016 04:00 AM