Carnival in capital. A spectacular opening parade kicked off the 11-day Yasalam festival at the Abu Dhabi Corniche on November 17 Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: As the Yas Marina Circuit gets ready to host the grand finale of the 2016 F1 racing season, there’s no mistaking the excitement, almost carnival-like, that has gripped the UAE capital.

It’s easy to see why Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi is much more than just fast cars and ‘furious’ drivers. With a great mix of music, sports, fitness and a slew of community events taking place simultaneously on the streets and beaches, the thrill is not confined just to the race circuit.

Bringing F1 fun closer to the people is the 11-day Yasalam Festival that kick-started with a spectacular parade at the Corniche on November 17 which was attended by thousands of residents. The event saw stilt walkers, puppets, musicians and dancers strutting their stuff, and schoolchildren in colourful ensembles representing various countries creating a carnival-like atmosphere.

“It was a mesmerising experience. It is my third year at the Yasalam parade and I love it,” said Wajih Halawa, an Abu Dhabi resident. A die-hard F1 fan, Halawa says he has never made it to the actual races because of the high ticket prices. “I cannot afford it,” said the Arab expat who works for a motor company.

Fan fervour

But there was no tinge of disappointment in his voice. “I make the most out of Formula 1 season every year by hitting the F1 FanZone,” he said. With F1 simulators that give you a virtual racing experience, and the pit-stop challenge where visitors can compete in changing tyres of a F1 car, FanZone promises action galore. Visitors can also catch all the action – practice sessions and races at Yas Marina – on the big screen here.

“It is as good as being at the races,” said Ahmad Mustafa, a Grade 12 student.

It is not just motorsport enthusiasts who can have their ‘speed fix’ at the Yasalam fest. There is plenty of entertainment and drop-in activities for the whole family at the Urban Art Zone and Heritage Plaza.

If that is not enough, Beats on the Beach, one of the most popular free open air concerts at the Corniche, will offer music maniacs a treat of a lifetime. The performances are spread over three nights running from November 24 to 26. The party on the beach will be graced by the likes of Nancy Ajram and Sean Paul.

Filipino expat Leizel said Beats on the Beach is what she is most looking forward to. “I cannot wait for the Yeng Constantino’s concert [day one headlining act]. I am a big fan of hers,” said Leizel, a waitress.

Her friend Rizza said she is planning to go for all three days of the concert.

“I do not want to miss a single concert because they are all free. The races may be just for the rich but the music and fun are for all,” said Rizza, also from Philippines.


Where the fun never stops:

F1 Fanzone

An unmissable F1 fan experience where the whole city can come together and witness the roar of the races on giant screens live on the corniche. You can also try out the race stimulators that put you in the driver’s seat. Find out what it really feels like to be an F1 racer.

When: Until November 27

Where: West Plaza, Abu Dhabi Corniche


Red Arrows air show

The Red Arrows, the famous Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team from the UK, will do a aerobatics display in the UAE capital.

When: November 24, 4pm

Where: Abu Dhabi Corniche


Beats on the Beach

When: November 24-26

Where: Lagoon Beach, Abu Dhabi Corniche

(Beside music, you can check out the BOUNCE experience and enjoy some trampoline acrobatics to the beats)


Social competition

Share your ultimate #Yasalam2016 moment and get the chance to win a meet and greet with one of your favourite artists.


Yasalam Hangout

Chill out in the Yasalam Hangout, try out the many food outlets and enjoy live music.

When: Until November 27

Where: Where: Lagoon Beach, Abu Dhabi Corniche


Urban Art Zone

Unleash your creativity at the Urban Art Zone! Take part in interactive workshops that give budding artists a chance to let loose and experiment with different forms of art, or just watch the region’s urban artists bring their creations to life in live demonstrations.

When: Until November 27

Where: West Plaza, Abu Dhabi Corniche



Get Driver Fit

Head to the Muscle Beach and make the most of the last week of the citywide Formula 1 fitness campaign. This is an open air gym workout under the close guidance of GDF trainers.

When: Until November 27

Where: West Plaza, Abu Dhabi Corniche


More info on Yasalam activities: www.yasalam.ae