The largest of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi is the capital of United Arab Emirates. Flush with oil, it is one of the richest cities on the planet. It has not been long since the desert landscape has been transformed to the bustling cosmopolitan metropolis it is today. The reason for the development is mainly attributed to the vision of the local rulers and funding from natural resources.
Almost 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 5% of natural gas is in the hands of the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi. There are few things in the world money can’t buy. And the sheikhs have bought all the rest. Think of Middle Eastern cities, and we have visions of deserts, palm trees, camels and local tribes. Well, Abu Dhabi has all that but not quite in the same way.
Skyscrapers, the tallest in the world lies next door in Dubai, and massive malls that can rival most western cities. Luxury cars, branded boutiques and architectural visual spectacles combine with traditional Arab culture, customs and religion. Abu Dhabi is still ruled by kings or sheikhs as they’re called there.
The Arabs are crazy about sports. And what do you do if you’re a sport fanatic and have a bank at your disposal? You buy out the teams, of course. The Arab sheikhs of U.A.E. are proud owners of heavy weight football clubs like Manchester City and Arsenal.
And not too long ago, the Grand Prix fever struck. Abu Dhabi did what it does best. It built an island, all 2,550 hectares of it, out in the sea, centred on the motor sport event. Yas Island was born with the Yas Marina Circuit as its centrepiece.
Started in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place towards the end of the Formula 1 season. The inaugural race was the first ever day-night race where floodlights were switched on throughout. There have been no efforts of holding back the expenditure for making sure the event is a lavish one.
Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull-Renault won the first two championships in 2009 and 2010. And in 2012 the winner was Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus-Renault in a nail-biting encounter between him, Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, the 2011 winner. In 2013 it was Vettel again who picked up the winner’s trophy at the Abu Dhabi GP race.
Abu Dhabi is showcasing the venue not only for sports but as an entertainment and business hub. Yas Island boasts the most technically facilitated conference halls and exhibition centres in the Middle East.