Date: 14th April 2010
I was so looking forward to today. After Vishu celebrations at home with family, I called up our usual taxi driver and headed to the final stop in my sightseeing itinerary of UAE.
Since I was leaving from Musaffah, Yas Island wasn’t very far — 15 minutes or so by road (it’s around 30 mins from Abu Dhabi city).
The US$30 billion plus (yes!) Yas Island is the flagship project of Aldar Properties. It’s such a huge undertaking that you might as well visit Aldar’s website to see what all they plan on building out here.
But the Middle East story remains the same. What was once nothing but desert sands is now being turned into a gargantuan construction site offering the best of everything to the world.
Though still far off from completing everything envisioned, some of the tent pole attractions are nearing their opening dates — like Ferrari World.
Set to open before the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari World is set to be the world’s largest indoor theme park. And this being themed after Ferrari, it will also house Formula Rossa — the fastest roller coaster in the world. How fast? Up to 240kmph (or 149 miles) with the power of 1.7 Gs pressing against your chest! Scary.
If you are wondering what is so impressive about this monstrosity, well, photos from the ground below are not going to do it justice unfortunately. For that, you should see what it looks like from up above.
Crazy isn’t it? That they actually built something this futuristic and alien, on such a scale!
(Question: How are they going to clean the roof?)
After driving past Ferrari World, the taxi driver took me to the attraction I was mainly here for — and the only one fully complete on Yas Island.
Last year, at the inaugural race held in Abu Dhabi, seeing the Yas Hotel all lit up on TV made for quite an impressive sight. The only day-&-night race (starting in the evening) on the F1 calendar, Abu Dhabi had to one-up the Singapore F1 — the first night race — and also one held along their Marina Bay (albeit a natural one).
Since I had some time before sunset and the Yas Hotel lights came on, I checked out the docks first. Also because visitors aren’t allowed access on to the tracks, so I didn’t really have much choice.
The sun was setting, which only meant the lights were slowly starting to appear on the Yas Hotel.
By the time I was done with our conversation, the skies had turned near-pitch dark, which only meant one thing — the Yas Hotel was now in full bloom.
I had seen it from a distance on my second day in Abu Dhabi but I’m so glad I chose to see it up close!
As I waited for my taxi, I noticed a bright red sports car make its way around the fountain. I then quickly realized it was the impressive Nissan GTR, the winner of a gazillion “Car of the Year” awards since its debut two years ago.
And then, the driver actually looks at me and calls me over. For a second I was like: “Oops, was I not supposed to take photos?”
But as I walked up towards him, the young Arab owner only asked me if he could see the photos I had taken. Then he asked me if I wanted him to park it better so I could take a proper photo!
“Of course,” I said
We began talking and he (Ali, I believe his name was) told me about his prized possession. Costing around INR 39 lakh, he got it second hand from the US and came to Yas Marina Circuit to find out how much it costs to drive one’s own car on the track.
He even let me sit in the car and get a better feel of the tech-loaded GTR.
He even asked me send him the photographs and we exchanged each others contact information. By then, I hear a horn beep and I turn around to see my taxi driver waving to me. He had arrived a few minutes back but waited as he saw me talking to Ali.
As we drove back to my parent’s place, we passed by the HQ office building.
While in the car, as always with this driver, he told me tales about his experiences in this country. As I recounted my evening at the Yas Marina Circuit and the cars, he told me about the spoilt lazy youth and how the Government just throws money at them in the hopes they’d end up with a career one day. I’m sure a lot of what he was telling me was true because it’s not like I haven’t heard about all this before.
Still, the visit to Yas Island was certainly one of the best highlights of this trip. I recommend it to anyone visiting the UAE. It’s only an hour’s drive from Dubai and 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi city.
I can assure you, once Ferrari World and the other attractions open, Yas Island will become one of the world’s ‘must-see’ destinations in a few years time — which is what Abu Dhabi is striving for.
This concludes all the posts on all the sights I saw in the two weeks I spent in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I only have a concluding post which is mostly going to be an editorial piece. Meaning: more words than photos.
Here’s a video I took from Yas Marina circuit:
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