The final countdown
As the desert cools down, the race hots up – will Lewis Hamilton claim his fifth championship in Abu Dhabi this month?
As we approach the final race of the F1 season in Abu Dhabi this month (22–25 November), Lewis Hamilton is comfortably clear of rival Sebastian Vettel. So will it be a fifth world championship for the Mercedes driver to become what Forbes recently described as one of “the greatest F1 drivers of all time”? Quite likely. The race is set to be one of the most thrilling of the season, not least because it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. “We’re revamping the whole programme,” says Yas Marina Circuit CEO Al Tareq Al Ameri. “We’ve enhanced the pit lane experience, which is very popular; our sales are in the best shape ever.” With Guns N’ Roses, The Weeknd and Post Malone headlining the Yasalam After Race Concerts, there’s as much fun off the track as on it. Plus, fans don’t need to wait long for their next motorsport fix: with the FIA World Rallycross Championship (5–6 April, 2019) making its Middle East debut in the UAE next year, as far as motoring capitals go, Abu Dhabi stays in pole position.
Abu Dhabi Art
As the Abu Dhabi Art fair returns this month, photographer Steve Macleod talks about his work in the wilderness
“Who would’ve thought Abu Dhabi would become an international art hub?” says landscape photographer Steve Macleod. “With the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim on the way, there’s a real momentum in the art scene now.” And, as a gallerist-educator of 10 or so years’ experience in the UAE, he should know. Although he’s now based in London, this month the photographer makes a return to the Emirates to exhibit his new photo series at the 10th edition of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair (14–17 November) in collaboration wieth the Fatima Bint Hazza Foundation. Named Hala, the series was shot around the UAE’s Al Hajar Mountains, and comes to the capital after a warm reception at the Photo London fair. “I’ve never had the opportunity to exhibit in the UAE, it feels like a spiritual homecoming,” says Macleod. “And it’s where the work belongs, I think.” Shooting between 2015 and 2017, Macleod says he decided on the remote region after locals tried to warn him off. “People would tell me, ‘There’s nothing to see; it’s a horrible place; hot, dusty, rugged, extreme – very inhospitable,’” he says. “It just made me want to go more.” He was glad he did. Once there, the mountains offered a sense of the sublime. “There was something about that landscape that was addictive,” he continues. “There was no one around for miles. Alone in this vast space, I felt so fragile.” Of course, Macleod won’t be the only face at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair: of 100 or so other artists, stand-outs include Kuwaiti visual artist Monira Al Qadiri and Jordanian-British photographer Ammar Al Attar, alongside a programme of talks and performing arts.
Introduced in 2015, Martyrs’ Day (30 November) pays tribute to the UAE’s fallen servicemen and women with long-weekend tributes city-wide including a special ceremony at the Idris Khan-designed Wahat Al Karama. The huge, falling-block war memorial opposite the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has won several international design awards since its completion in 2016, including most recently, a CODAworx Design Award 2018. Open 9am–midnight daily; English and Arabic tours at 11am and 5pm, daily.
Abu Dhabi Classics: La Scala Academy
Part of the ongoing Abu Dhabi Classics season, La Scala Academy Rising Stars (9 November) perform a one-night show at Emirates Palace. On the bill are three classical ballets, including Napoli from Danish choreographer August Bournonville and Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère. Continuing the season, Chinese piano soloist Ran Jia plays Manarat Al Saadiyat (19 April, 2019).
Restaurant of the month
One of the newer additions to The Galleria’s eating-out options, this casual, Athens-founded all-day estiatório has fast become Abu Dhabi’s go-to Greek. For good reason: bright and fresh, stand-out bites include the superb grilled octopus with eggplant mousse (pictured).
Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi”
One of the most talked-about watches of 2018, the iconic steel Rolex GMT Master II, AKA “the Pepsi” for its red-blue, 24-hour bezel, is a much-hyped re-release of a 1950s model and much beloved of the frequent-flying jet set. Available on request at Mohammed Rasool Khoory & Sons, Khalid Bin Al Whaleed Street.
Taste of Abu Dhabi
Sample the best food from top restaurants in the region at this festival weekender with star chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and Gary Rhodes.
Festival of Lights
The motoring theme park Ferrari World hosts a spectacular Indian festival featuring Bollywood dances, a life-sized puppet elephant and mesmerising light shows.
Striders Half Marathon
Back for its 34th edition, this picturesque run around Yas Island includes free Yas Waterworld entry for competitors for a post-race cool-down.
Abu Dhabi Golf Festival
A week-long golf festival at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi with events at the city’s best clubs, tournaments for all levels and the chance to learn from the pros.
The Daily Show funnyman makes a hotly anticipated return to the UAE at du Arena on Yas Island.