Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Yas? Just off the coast of Abu Dhabi lies Yas Island, today not much more than a low sand-dune surrounded by the sea. From 2009, however, it will be the venue for an annual race in the Formula 1 Series. This we learned at the weekend when race stars showed off their cars for a huge crowd lining the Corniche not far from the legendary ultra-luxury Emirates Palace hotel in front of which Fernando Alonso sits in his Ferrari in the photo above.
There's a website devoted to this blatant attempt to steal the spotlight which Dubai has basked in. Wonder at the CGI fly-thoughs! Gasp as you realize what it's all going to cost to build a brand new track offering what is claimed will be a 'Monaco experience'.
Sympathise, just a bit, with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (below at the right) of Dubai's ruling family. Dubai, after all, already has a splendid autodrome which could host F1 racing.
The unkind might suspect that one of the conditions set by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed when signing with Bernie Ecclestone (who looks less than best pleased) was that Abu Dhabi should be the only host of Formula One racing in the Emirates.
It was, however, a star studded weekend in Big D, too. Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher were, for various reasons, all on hand.
The money! The glamour! The celebrity! I just hope the news that Dubai is the place to be seen doesn't reach the Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears set. For their ilk the Sandlands are not yet ready!