Dubai: One of the Arab world’s leading motorsport figures and an influential official within the sport’s world governing body, the FIA, has hailed the role played by the marshals, the “unsung heroes” of the sport.

Mohammad Bin Sulayem, president of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), has showered immense praise on the 700-odd volunteers from the UAE Motorsport Marshals Club that manages the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, the final round on the F1 calendar.

“Our volunteers show deep commitment and a vast knowledge about their specific tasks. We are pleased to see their loyalty and passion to motorsport. I wish everyone a safe and entertaining experience,” Bin Sulayem said as the Yas Marina Circuit prepared to host its ninth race this weekend.

“All volunteers have been rigorously trained under the highest international standards. They are all a well-educated bunch of Emiratis and expatriates, and most often hold higher degrees. All of them have been rigorously trained under the highest international standards, and we are proud to have them all come and volunteer their time and effort for the smooth conduct of the race.”

A successful organiser and record-breaking former international rally driver, Bin Sulayem has gone on to become of the most successful Arab drivers in motorsport history in earning 14 FIA Middle East Rally Championship titles while establishing himself as a sporting ambassador for the region.

In 2008, he became the first Arab named as Vice President of the FIA, and the first to be elected to the FIA World Motor Sport Council. In his FIA role he has pioneered teaching, research and knowledge transfer initiatives in motorsport. And as president of ATCUAE since 2006, he has built the organisation into one of the world’s leading national motorsport and motoring authorities, with acknowledged expertise in associated training, research and education. In June 2013, he was appointed as chairman of the new Motorsport Development Task Force set up by the FIA to build a 10-year plan for the sport’s global development.

“The F1 is known for its adrenalin and speed with all drivers performing on the edge of their abilities to push themselves further. The challenge that the ATCUAE faces is to ensure that the event remains safe as it is the body’s dictate to have a race that is organised, run and regulated under the international standards.

Since the first event in 2009, the ATCUAE has been contracted by Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (the government organisation that operates the circuit and promotes the event) to oversee the safe and smooth running of the event.

The ATCUAE’s volunteer army of marshals have been officially recognised by the FIA as the best officials in the world over the previous four years. “The team of volunteer officials will each have their own unique roles and responsibilities, but all having the same goal of a safe and successful race. These are the unsung heroes of our sport especially because of the time and effort that they contribute in the build-up and during the actual event,” Bin Sulayem said.