x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abu Dhabi revs up for F1 carnival

Rock stars, racing cars, a giant cinema screen and a Rio-style carnival will precede the UAE's first Formula One weekend.

ABU DHABI // A series of concerts, a giant cinema screen and a Brazilian-style street festival will transform the Corniche in the weeks leading up to the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Yasalam - "Amazing" - programme of events starting on October 16 on the Corniche and Yas Island will aim to whip up excitement for the race. The weekend will culminate in a concert by the American band Aerosmith after the race on November 1.

Events on the Corniche will be free, while shows on Yas Island will be available almost exclusively to Grand Prix ticket-holders. Among the artists performing on the Corniche will be the American hip-hop star Timbaland, the British group Soul II Soul and the Lebanese pop singer Myriam Fares. A number of other UAE-based artists will also perform. Car and motorsport-related films including The Italian Job, Cars and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 16, will be screened on the Corniche beach.

The screening of the Grand Prix race from Sao Paulo will coincide with a Rio-style carnival on the Corniche featuring a band, parade and street entertainers. Behind the scenes, Formula One drivers, engineers and managers will talk to students in a bid to encourage interest in a home-grown motorsport industry. John Lickrish, the managing director of Flash Entertainment, the events company that is managing the entertainment related to the Grand Prix weekend, said: "It is a programme of extreme diversity, which will bring the entire community together ... whether or not you are a motorsport fan or a resident of the UAE.

"We will bring together music, art, films and motorsport-themed entertainment in the heart of our city." Flash has set out to supply enough activity during the F1 weekend to entertain even those who do not intend to watch the motor race. "Mothers and families might come, too, so we don't want those people to be sitting in a hotel twiddling their thumbs," Mr Lickrish said. Organisers plan to accommodate 30,000 people for the film screenings, starting on October 22, and for the screening of the Brazilian Grand Prix on the preceding weekend. The race in Sao Paulo will be shown from 9pm on October 16.