x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Top tips for travel to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Taxi drivers say they can earn about Dh200 extra each day of the event in tips.

Crews prepare the track for the upcoming Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.
Crews prepare the track for the upcoming Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

ABU DHABI // Mention the words "Formula" and "One", and taxi drivers in the city break into toothy grins.

The coming Grand Prix on Yas Island has them anticipating a busy weekend of driving generous guests around the capital.

For Abdulla Farhadullah, F1 means one thing: "baksheesh ziyada", or lots of tips.

Baksheesh is a word sometimes associated with bribery but returns to its linguistic root on Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend when thousands of visitors arrive in the city and revive the practice of tipping cab drivers.

"The English tip a lot," said Mr Farhadullah. "There's lots of waiting at Yas but when it finishes, the customers come quickly. Business is best in Formula One."

The Emirates Taxi driver will never forget last year when he received Dh300 in tips for one day's work during the GP.

That is equal to his tips for an entire month.

The Pakistani Hadat Khan, 48, a taxi driver with Cars Company who has lived in Abu Dhabi for five years, works his usual 17-hour day on F1 weekend but works through the night and sleeps at sunrise to make the most of the big crowds.

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Mr Khan promises to be a great guide to all passengers, no matter how generous they are.

"Sometimes people are angry about their own problems," he said. "We should be patient if there are crazy people. That is a taxi's job. We should be respectful for our guests."

Mr Khan, like many drivers, usually earns about Dh3,000 a month but said he could make an extra Dh200 a day on the GP weekend.

So it's no surprise he is looking forward to the extra business.

"It is great, there are so many people, there is so much work and a lot of tips," he said. "It's very, very good for three days."

There are many ways to get to and from Yas Island this year. Taxi drivers have been told that 1,000 of them will be stationed on Yas for the weekend events.

They will drop spectators at one of four Circuit Circular stops or at the box office by the East Gate, where people can collect their GP tickets.

Taxi ranks on the island will be at the Gateway car park and north of Gate 25, outside the du Arena. The flagfall for taxis leaving Yas Island is Dh20.

The Department of Transport has encouraged drivers to make the most of its park-and-ride shuttle services. F1 fans can take routes 170, 180, 185, 190 from central Abu Dhabi or routes 195, 200, 201,203, 300, 302 and 304 from the suburbs.

Drivers coming from Dubai can take shuttles from Shahama, 10 kilometres from Yas Island.

Once on the island, there are shuttle buses to take fans around Yas Marina Circuit. It is about 3km from the South Grandstand to the du Arena, so the shuttles will come in handy.

After the concerts, shuttle buses will carry passengers from the du Arena to car parks and the Shahama F1 Assembly Point. The Circuit Circular shuttle will connect the Hotel Plaza, du Forum, Yas Marina and the South Grandstand.

But despite the public transport available, many ticket-holders still plan to drive.

"We'll drive," said Tharwat Abdin, 32, a human resources manager from Egypt who has guests visiting from France and Spain for the event. "If there is a lot of parking, it's easier for me to come and go."

For those who insist on driving, parking spaces are in a ratio of one space to every three tickets.

Ticket holders will receive a parking permit with their tickets, which give directions to the car parks.

The permit should be attached to the windscreen and a different parking permit is given for each day.