(Roundup) Abu Dhabi tourism gains speed on F1 race

November 24, 2014 11:54 am 

ABU DHABI, Nov. 24 — With the countdown to the final of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula-1 Grand Prix 2014 running, capital sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) moves its leisure hotspots into a high gear.

Two winners are already clear before the final of this year's Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix that opens on Sunday night. One is German car giant Mercedes as the race will be decided between Nico Rosberg who will be in pole position. The German Mercedes F1 pilot was on Saturday 0.386 seconds faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who managed to secure the second place. The other clear champion is Abu Dhabi itself.

The annual grand prix on Yas island which started since 2009 in the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi, has always been a final push of the year for more guests and for more global brand awareness of sheikhdom as a holiday destination.

According to the official Abu Dhabi tourism and culture authority TCA, some 2.5 million tourists have traveled here in the first nine months, representing a 26 percent increase. And the number continues to grow.

Al Tareq Al Ameri, chief executive of the Yas Marina circuit, said the capacities along the F1-track on Yas island have been increased by 5,000 seats "so that this year for the first time we welcomed 60,000 F1 fans and motorsport aficionados."

The F1 race this year is also featured in its various attractions radiated by some of the world's most famous stars, giving those who do not like motor sport a reason to come to Abu Dhabi. American pop star Pharrell Williams rocked on Saturday night with his catchy song "Happy" on Yas Island, while British singer Rita Ora took the stage at the Abu Dhabi corniche.

Among other major attractions in Abu Dhabi are the sandy beaches and islands for leisure and watersports, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the city's old souk. And while the climate get rough and cold in East Asia, Europe and North America, temperature stays at a comfortable level around 25 degrees Celsius in the day.

Demands for hotel rooms peak at the end of November. Thomas Guss, the newly appointed general manager of the Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al-Beri, Abu Dhabi, said many of the F1-pilots stay at his resort.

Other Abu Dhabi luxury resorts like the Yas Viceroy from which guest can watch the F1 Grand Prix race from their room windows or the iconic six-star hotel Emirate Palace at the corniche have been likewise booked out for weeks.

F1 race's main sponsor Abu Dhabi-state owned Etihad Airways received shortly before the start of the race a special gift from Europe.

On Nov. 16, the European Union commission gave green light for Etihad's buying of 49 percent in financially troubled carrier Alitalia. The move strengthens Etihad's foothold in Europe where the airline already has stakes in German budget flyer Air Berlin, Air Serbia and Aer Lingus, the national flag carrier of Ireland. By the end of this year, Abu Dhabi hopes to have seen over 3.1 million tourists in 2014.

While this figure is a far cry from the over 11 million tourists the neighboring emirate Dubai is poised to attract this year, Abu Dhabi is increasingly gaining shape as a stable, clean and family-friendly holiday destination. (PNA/Xinhua)



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