x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Grand Prix party warms up with Yasalam

Yasalam is a city-wide programme of concerts, open-air cinema and family entertainment ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Performers during the parade on the pavement of the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Performers during the parade on the pavement of the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

ABU DHABI //African drums, Chinese dragons and flamenco and Bollywood dancers took the Abu Dhabi Corniche by storm last night as the capital started the countdown to one of its most significant sporting events of the year.

Yasalam is a city-wide programme of concerts, open-air cinema and family entertainment leading up to the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

The city-wide celebration started yesterday with a parade of 100 performers and about 250 schoolchildren in Abu Dhabi.

"It is fun," said Khalid Haddad, 10, from the Pearl Primary School, one of 12 schools in the parade.

The children were dressed in the flags of each of the 18 countries that host F1 racing, while the professional entertainers wore costumes and memorabilia from other nations.

The event was good family entertainment, said Erik Furu, who was there with his wife Debbie and daughter Isabella, 2.

"It is fun to watch this," Mr Furu said.

A big attraction from the previous Grands Prix has returned to the Corniche, with the opening on Thursday of the F1 Fanzone, which features interactive simulators, remote-control car racing and screenings of some of the big F1 races.

The free public attraction will be open on weekdays between 5pm and midnight, and between 2pm and 1am on weekends.

Starting on Monday, visitors will be able to enjoy open-air movie screenings, including the UAE premiere of Senna, the documentary about the Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna, who died in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy in 1994.

Now in its third year, Yasalam will also feature free concerts by artists including the Lebanese singer Najwa Karam, the British R'n'B sensation Jay Sean and Wyclef Jean.

The celebrations will culminate on Yas Island between November 11 and 13, when Britney Spears, The Cult and Paul McCartney will entertain racegoers.

vtodorova@thenational.ae