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Yas Marina hotel at night lit up

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

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).

Heading to Yas Island Abu DhabiThe 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.

Yas Marina circuit Abu Dhabi signalGoing to Yas Island Abu Dhabi

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.

Yas Island Ferrari World traffic

Though still far off from completing everything envisioned, some of the tent pole attractions are nearing their opening dates — like Ferrari World.

Yas Island Ferrari World roller coaster constructionSet 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.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi panorama constructionFerrari World Abu Dhabi labourers workersFerrari World from inside car Abu DhabiFerrari World Abu Dhabi construction progressFerrari World Abu Dhabi construction

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.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi construction timeline
Images source:

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.

Yas Island Marina circuit hotels
Some of the (barely inhabitated) hotels on Yas Island
Road to Yas Marina circuit Yas Island
Nearly there…
Yas Marina circuit track bridge
The Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina circuit track bridge view

Yas Marina circuit track tarmac
Home to the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 race track…
Yas Marina circuit Abu Dhabi panorama
… which also has a man-made marina in the middle of it…
Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi building
… and the most strangely-beautiful 5-star hotel on earth

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 SingaporeΒ  F1 — the first night race — and also one held along their Marina Bay (albeit a natural one).

Yas Hotel entrance fountain Abu DhabiI asked my driver to drop me here and come back around 7:30pm as I was going to be here for a while.

Yas Hotel Marina docksSince 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.

Yas Hotel bridge to Marina dockYas Marina hotel docks yachtsYas Marina hotel dock pathYas Marina dock reflection

Yas Marina hotel docking bay
I don’t know how one gets their boats into the Marina…

Yas Marina hotel dock iSpeed boat

Yas Marina dock black yacht
… guess only rich playboys are privy to that information

Yas Marina docked yachtYas Marina hotel dock fire engine

Yas Marina hotel dock panorama
(Panorama comprised of 6 shots)

Yas Marina hotel dock restricted accessYas Marina dock Michelin flagYas Marina hotel docks pillarsYas Marina hotel ramp

Yas Marina racing teams yacht Sun tower
The FIA GT1 championships were happening that weekend

Yas Marina FIA GT1 championship driverYas Marina racing team trucksYas Island Marina chairs lampsYas Marina hotel chair view

Yas Island yacht Al Bandar residences background
Al Bandar residences in the background

Yas Marina circuit club tower

Abu Dhabi plane fly sky
One of the many planes setting off from the near by airport
Yas Marina sun tower
The Yas Marina circuit Sun Tower
Yas Marina circuit do not signs
Photography is allowed though

Yas Marina hotel ramp waterYas Marina circuit sparrowsYas Hotel light starting to come onYas Hotel aero bridgeYas Marina Abu Dhabi sunset skyYas Marina circuit sunset sky

The sun was setting, which only meant the lights were slowly starting to appear on the Yas Hotel.

Yas Marina circuit track behind barricades

Yas Hotel under lights
Decided to go to the other side

Yas Marina circuit under bridge hotel track

Yas Marina hotel golf car
How workers get around at Yas Marina circuit
Yas Marina docks big yachts
Big-ass yachts

Yas Marina docks grandstandYas Marina hotel docks lights evening Yas Hotel section verticalYas Marina hotel track grandstandIt was past 6pm by this time and the lights were finally starting to show.

Yas Hotel lights underYas Hotel under lights curveWhile I made my way back to the other side, I met a group of Indian workers who have been working on this ‘alien invasion of the desert’ since the beginning.

Yas Marina hotel Indian workersThey told me how all this was nothing but sand when they began a few years ago… and how they managed to flood a desert and turn into a artificial marina.

Yas Marina Indian worker labourer
Rakesh from Lucknow, who witnessed the change in landscape

Yas Marina circuit track hotel view

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.

Yas Marina hotel at night lit up

Yas Hotel dock Yas island

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!

Yas Marina hotel at night reflection yacht

Yas Marina hotel lights reflection night
Quite a desert jewel

Yas Marina docks at night shadowYas hotel Yacht at nightYas Marina docks at nightYas Hotel marina pillarsIt was past 7pm now, so I made my way back to the entrance of Yas Hotel.

Yas Marina circuit track bridge

Yas Marina circuits track lights at night
The Yas Marina track at night

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.

Yas Hotel entrance Nissan GTR redI went up to the car to get a closer look.

Yas Hotel lobby Nissan GTR red

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 πŸ™‚

Red Nissan GTR in front of Yas HotelYas Marina red Nissan GTR close upWe 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.

Yas Marina inside Nissan GTR steering wheel
The Polyphony Digital-designed on-screen display
Yas Marina red Nissan GTR interior display
This one was an automatic
Yas Marina red Nissan GTR owner
The proud owner

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.

HQ office building Al Raha at night Abu Dhabi

HQ office building at night Al Raha Abu Dhabi construction
HQ is part of the Al Raha Beach development

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:

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

Date: 12th April 2010

After the madness of Dubai, it was back to calm ‘ol Abu Dhabi and more time with family. My mom wanted to show me the sands of Al Ain. So on a Sunday evening, we hired our usual taxi guy and headed outside Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi to Al Ain highway

Abu Dhabi to Al Ain highway distance sign
We were on the highway to Al Ain
Abu Dhabi desert towards Al Ain from car
To my right
Abu Dhabi desert towards Al Ain panorama
Stopped to take this panorama (comprised of 10 shots)

Abu Dhabi desert towards Al Ain oasisAfter driving for nearly 45 minutes, we got off the main highway and I got out of the car.

Abu Dhabi desert towards Al Ain road tyre tracksAbu Dhabi desert towards Al Ain road truckAbu Dhabi desert towards Al Ain sand dunesThe sands, once I got into them, were extremely fine and smooth.

Abu Dhabi Al Ain desert sand linesThey were so smooth that you could slowly slip in to the ground by just standing still for a few seconds.

Abu Dhabi Al Ain desert lizard salamander
The only life out there besides us

Abu Dhabi Al Ain desert lizard salamander tracksAbu Dhabi Al Ain desert lizard salamander tracks hidingEven though I’ve had enough sand in my face growing up in the Middle East, being here really was quite a splendid feeling. There were plans to go dune bashing in 4x4s but due to my friends being available only on Fridays made it a little tough to cram it in my already packed itinerary. I didn’t want to opt for a tourist package either ‘cos it was too corny for me.

Abu Dhabi Al Ain desert father collecting sand
My father in the back, collecting UAE sand. He's being doing that for every country he's been to.

After listening to hearsay tales from our taxi driver about desert snakes and other ‘dangerous’ reptiles, my father insisted that I don’t tread any further into the sand dune and asked me to get back in the car. Plus it was nearing sunset.

Abu Dhabi Al Ain desert roundabout
We weren't far from Al Ain
Al Ain to Abu Dhabi highway trees
All the trees you're going to see out here
Abu Dhabi desert electricity power line panorama
Panorama comprised of 8 shots

Al Ain to Abu Dhabi highway

Al Ain to Abu Dhabi highway streetlight
Heading back to Abu Dhabi

The next day…

Since I wasn’t going to sit idle at home, after lunch I took a taxi and headed to Abu Dhabi corniche.

Abu Dhabi buildings near corniche
The skies were all grey that day

After taking two Nepalis-driven taxis back-to-back, I got down near Corniche Road.

Abu Dhabi office building construction near corniche
Abu Dhabi's construction scene is... still happening

Abu Dhabi buildings landmark near cornicheAbu Dhabi landmark sculpture near cornicheAbu Dhabi landmark sculptures near cornicheAbu Dhabi mosque near cornicheAbu Dhabi Markaziyah road signal

Abu Dhabi corniche underpass
You'd take this underpass if you wanted to get to the corniche

But I decided to take a stroll through the park on the other side of Corniche Road. Abu Dhabi corniche park signpostAbu Dhabi buildings corniche park lakeAbu Dhabi corniche park lake fountain

Abu Dhabi buildings corniche park rules
This park is only meant for boring purposes

Abu Dhabi buildings corniche park bridgeI crossed the road to get to the corniche.

Abu Dhabi buildings corniche bus standAbu Dhabi corniche watersAbu Dhabi corniche park treesAbu Dhabi corniche tilesAbu Dhabi corniche cycling

Abu Dhabi corniche cycle rentals
Don't have a cycle? You can rent one at the corniche

Abu Dhabi corniche underpass toiletsAbu Dhabi corniche pedestrian underpass

Abu Dhabi corniche excercise fitness
Really appreciated the emphasis on fitness at this corniche

Abu Dhabi corniche water fountainAbu Dhabi corniche beach domesAbu Dhabi corniche boxingAbu Dhabi corniche palm trees

Abu Dhabi corniche board signs
Abu Dhabi corniche plays host to many cultural festivals

Abu Dhabi corniche road Emirates officeAbu Dhabi corniche beach sand volleyballAbu Dhabi corniche food court Cold Stone CreameryAfter a coffee break from Cinnabon, I decided to head to Marina Mall for some shopping.

Abu Dhabi corniche walking at nightAbu Dhabi corniche road night

Abu Dhabi Marina Mall tower restaurant
That's a restaurant on top

After seeing Dubai’s mall offerings, there nothing special to point out about Marina Mall. It has all the usual stores — that’s it. And a Carrefour.

Abu Dhabi Marina Mall Vertu store
First time I've seen a dedicated Vertu store

After spending an hour shopping at Centerpoint, I took a taxi back home.

Abu Dhabi Adnoc tower

Found this post boring?

Don’t worry, the next and final sightseeing post from UAE will make up for it, trust me!

Next post in this series:

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

Ibn Battuta mall China court panorama

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

Date: 10th April 2010

After a tiring previous day (and only hitting the bed at 4am), I got up early to receive my parents from Bur Dubai bus stand as they were visiting from Abu Dhabi. Since today and tomorrow were all going to be ‘family time,’ we were going to be staying with my father’s friend, in his nice, posh little flat in Karama.

Once we all landed at my father’s friend’s place post-lunch, we rested for some time before heading out.

It was back to Dubai Mall for me — but for my parents, despite having lived in Abu Dhabi for nearly an year, it was going to be their first time experiencing Dubai Aquarium and At The Top of Burj Khalifa.

First up, the aquarium: Dubai Aquarium from entrance outside glassDubai Aquarium little girl baby shark

Dubai Aquarium little sting ray Acha touch
My father really enjoyed being this close to sea creatures

Dubai Aquarium narrow sting ray tube

Dubai Aquarium under sting ray face
That’s what a stingray’s face looks like

Dubai Aquarium dome lots of fish

Dubai Aquarium divers working
Well, hello there!

Dubai Aquarium darkness Dubai Aquarium from outside Dubai mall crowdsFor more photos and videos from inside Dubai Aquarium, check out my first post. Next up, we waited for our turn to go up the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai Mall At The Top gift shop parents
My parents at the At The Top gift shop

Burj Khalifa statistics At The Top entrance

Burj Khalifa statistics Story in numbers facts figures
200+ storeys; 95kms – from where one can see the top of the spire; 12,000 slaves… sorry, labourers; 57 elevators; 500,000 tonnes – weight of the empty building

I had booked for an evening slot for the At The Top visit, hoping I could see Dubai all lit up. But as we got up, the sun was still very much above the horizon.

Burj Khalifa parents At the Top view
Regardless, my parents loved the view
Dubai Financial Center from Burj Khalifa evening
Dubai financial center
Burj Khalifa floors above At The Top
That’s how many floors there still are above the observation deck
Burj Khalifa sunset over The World islands
The sun setting over the yet to be completed The World islands
Burj Khalifa tourists watching sunset
Watching the sun set from atop the world’s tallest building is a great idea

At The Top Burj Khalifa tourists watching sunsetDowntown Dubai construction site from Burj Khalifa For more photos and videos from At The Top, check out my first post.

We finished our tour of Burj Khalifa, made our way out and to the Dubai Fountain site. The $200 million-plus Dubai Fountain is an attraction built on the artificial (duh) lake just outside Dubai Mall.

Dubai Mall The Address hotel at night
The Address hotel in the back
Dubai mall Dubai fountain site at night
The crowds wait for the show to start

Built by the same people behind the famous Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, Dubai obviously had to up the ante. So these fountains shoot water up higher, 500 feet high (150 metres)!

Shows are every half an hour between 6pm to 10pm. Here’s the show I saw: Since it’s free, and since I can’t afford to go to Las Vegas just yet, this was great!

Burj Khalifa Mithun parents portrait
Me and my folks in front of a massive concrete & steel Christmas tree

Burj Khalifa glowing dubaiAfter the show, we made our way to the buses that drop visitors to the metro station.

Pink Porsche Dubai mall parking
Why, why would someone do that to a Porsche?
Burj Khalifa glowing at night dubai
Architectural beauty

The next day with my parents…

The next morning, I took my parents to Bur Dubai for some shopping and to show them around. Bur Dubai souk morning

Bur Dubai souk father pushing cart
My father considering ‘post-retirement’ work

Bur Dubai souk morning wide angleBur Dubai souk morning shopsBur Dubai souk station morning Bur Dubai souk Indonesian shop

Bur Dubai souk Chinese man with father
My father bothering some random Chinese dude for a photo

After showing them the souk station, I took them to the Hindu temple (photos of both can be seen in my first post). Bur Dubai Hindu temple tourists Bur Dubai souk Hindu temple entry exitBur Dubai Hindu temple entry exit Poojasri fashions

Bur Dubai souk park parents sitting
Taking a break from all the walking

Bur Dubai morning old buildingBur Dubai mosque roadBur Dubai mosque blue sky

Bur Dubai creek morning pigeons
Pigeons by the creek

Bur Dubai creek pigeons bouysAnd with that, we were done. Took a taxi and headed back to my father’s colleague’s place. He offered to drop us off near Jebel Ali power station, where we had been invited for lunch by our relatives.

Inside Mr. Nandakumar's Peugot car with sunroof
Inside Mr. Nandakumar’s Peugot

Once again, it was a drive on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Emirates Towers Dubai from car
Emirates Towers

Glass building Sheikh Zayed roadGlass building construction Sheikh Zayed roadSheikh Zayed road tall buildingSheikh Zayed road row of buildingsSheikh Zayed road Dubai Marina construction

Dubai Hard Rock cafe Sheikh Zayed road
Those guitars used to be where Dubai’s Hard Rock Cafe was

Sheikh Zayed road office towersMetro line train Sheikh Zayed roadDnata travel center Dubai office twin towers

Jebel Ali station flat view
The view from my uncle’s flat near Jebel Ali power station, where he works

After lunch, we decided to check out Ibn Battuta Mall, which was nearby. This was the last major mall I had yet to see and the one my friends highly recommended, just because it was different.

The mall business in Dubai is, let’s just say, quite cut throat. For such a small state, Dubai has some of the largest malls in the world. And since just about every mall offers the same set of stores, mall operators come up with differentiators to draw the crowds in.

What’s the differentiator for Ibn Battuta Mall? For one (if you haven’t figured out already), it’s named after the great Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta. The entire mall is themed after his travels across China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Andalusia with a section dedicated to each zone.

We parked near the China entrance. Ibn Battuta mall parking lot DubaiIbn Battuta mall Chinese entranceIbn Battuta mall Chinese corridor China courtEach of the sections have a lobby with a major attraction specific to that zone. This is what the China court looks like.

Ibn Battuta mall China court panorama
Panorama comprised of 6 shots

The main attraction here being a replica of a Chinese sailing ship supposedly used by Ibn Battuta in his travels. Ibn Battuta mall Chinese ship modelIbn Battuta mall Chinese boat fountainIbn Battuta mall China court ship

Ibn Battuta mall Grand cinemas IMAX
Ibn Battuta Mall houses the only IMAX screen in Dubai

From China, we then moved on to India. Ibn Battuta mall India court from ChinaIbn Battuta India court shopsIbn Battuta India court lobbyIbn Battuta India court dome chandlier

Ibn Battuta India court elephant rider
India Court’s big attraction

From India into Persia. Ibn Battuta mall Persia court from IndiaIbn Battuta mall Persia court kids roomsIbn Battuta mall Persia court main dome Ibn Battuta Mall Persia court armillary spherePersia Court’s big attraction is a replica of a Starbucks Coffee outlet*.

Ibn Battuta Mall Persia court dome Starbucks
*just kidding

From Persia, you have two paths to Egypt. Ibn Battuta Mall entry Egypt court

Ibn Battuta Mall Egypt court street lamps
Both paths eventually meet
Ibn Battuta mall Egypt court corridor
The Egypt Court houses a lot of history, facts and trivia about Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta mall Egypt court trade middle agesIbn Battuta mall Egypt court across North AfricaIbn Battuta mall Egypt court life of traveller

Ibn Battuta Mall Egypt court travel mapIbn Battuta mall Egypt court pyramid

Ibn Battuta Mall Eqypt court lampsAnd finally Andalusia.

Ibn Battuta mall Andalusia court entryIbn Battuta mall Andalusia court corridorIbn Battuta Mall Andalusia court ceilingIbn Battuta Mall Andalusia court center statue

Ibn Battuta Mall Andalusia court fountains
Andalusia Court’s main attraction

Ibn Battuta mall Andalusia court flight ceilingWith that, we had conquered all five regions of Ibn Battuta’s mall. So we made our journey back, passing by more displays.

Ibn Battuta mall Andalusia court India displayIbn Battuta mall Eqypt court display

Ibn Battuta mall China hall pillars ceiling
Back in China Court

Ibn Battuta China hall ceiling

Ibn Battuta Mall truly is a must-see in my opinion. It was a good move on Nakheel Properties’ part to use a theme like this to set the mall apart from Dubai’s other shopping centers.

Once out of Ibn Battuta Mall, we wished our relatives goodbye and took the metro to Bur Dubai bus stand. I was heading back to Abu Dhabi.

Dubai bus to Abu Dhabi at nightAnd with this, ends my Dubai sojourn — for now.

Next posts in this series:

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

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