The holiday weekend of Nov. 1-3 marks the fifth year that the UAE hosts the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which takes place at Yas Marina Circuit. Many NYU Abu Dhabi students received an opportunity to participate in the sporting and attached social events that were in store this year.
Senior Sahar Kazemini was one of the lucky students who won two F1 tickets at the NYUAD raffle, which allowed her to attend the practice races on Friday, Nov. 1.
“It was really cool to watch the races live,” said Kazemini. “I’ve been to Marina Circuit a lot for the days when they open it for the running and jogging, but it was really cool to see the completely different side of it on the day of the actual races.”
For freshman Issa Nasr, F1 became a true family reunion as he got to see his cousin Felipe Nasr represent Brazil at the GP2 races, which happens at the same time as F1. The experience of seeing the races live for the first time in Abu Dhabi made Nasr feel especially proud of his country.
“I got used to seeing my cousin on TV,” said Nasr. “But being in [a] whole new country and seeing him here representing Brazil, my home country, gave me [a] sense of pride and patriotism that I’ve never felt in Brazil.”
Nasr is going to the official race on Sunday, Nov. 3 to cheer for his cousin.
“It’s the last race this season, so he is in the 3rd place right now, and if he wins the race tomorrow, there is a high chance he will win the season,” said Nasr.
Another significant attraction of F1 is the after-race concert program. This year it features performances of high-caliber stars in the music industry, such as Jay-Z, Muse and Depeche Mode. Freshman Daria Baydakova, who attended Jay-Z concert on Friday, described her experience.
“The vibe was inspiring and mind-blowing. Even though the generator blew up and Jay-Z left the stage for almost 10 minutes, at the end everyone still loved it,” said Baydakova. “[Timbaland] saved the situation by playing some of his famous songs and improvising, which proved that he is a great musician.”
For the UAE community, F1 has become one of the most entertaining and vibrant weekends of the year.
“It is a really good, big event that happens in Abu Dhabi,” said Kazemni. “It was the first time I’ve attended the F1 events here, and it really felt like a completely different side to Abu Dhabi. Yas Island is always [seen as] this touristy island where nothing really happens except for the concerts and big parties. It’s cool to see so many people from all over the world.”
The final F1 race will take place on Sunday, Nov. 3, and some NYUAD students will be fortunate enough to see the outcome firsthand.
Daria Karaulova is deputy managing editor. Email her at email@example.com.