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Exclusive Q&A - HE Khaldoon Al Mubarak 04 Feb 2007

HE Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the Chairman of Abu Dhabi's Executive Affairs Authority. World © www.abudhabigp.com

With so many countries being talked about as possible hosts for future Grands Prix, Saturday’s announcement of Abu Dhabi came as a surprise to many. It seems HE Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Executive Affairs Authority, had the right arguments, eloquence - and commercial instinct - to persuade Bernie Ecclestone to see Abu Dhabi’s undoubted potential...

Q: In 2009 Abu Dhabi will become part of the Formula One family. How long have the plans been in the making?
A:
We agreed terms for the 2009 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix late in 2006 and planning is already well underway. We look forward to bringing our own unique culture, landscape and fans to the F1 experience.

Q: Can you tell us something about the future track?
A:
The 2009 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track will reside on a 2,550 hectare, man-made island, Yas Island, which is located on the east coast of Abu Dhabi, five minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport and 20 minutes from the city centre. The 5.6 kilometre circuit, designed by renowned Formula One circuit designer Hermann Tilke, will feature three distinct sections - high speed areas ending in tight overtaking turns, a street section and a marina section, all of which will combine to deliver an unrivalled F1 viewing experience.

Q: What was the catalyst for the decision to bring Formula One racing to Abu Dhabi?
A:
Motorsport is a huge part of the sporting culture of the Middle East. The prestige and benefits of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix are in the same category as an Olympic Games or World Cup and its global reach and resonance is unrivalled. That is why this new partnership is such an exciting one for Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE (United Arab Emirates).

Q: What benefits are you expecting to derive from Formula One racing - aside from a passion for the sport?
A:
The opportunity that a Formula One Grand Prix presents through increased international attention and visibility will deliver very real benefits for Abu Dhabi and indeed the entire UAE. Besides the sport itself, it is also very much a commercially driven decision.

Q: And what is it that you can give Formula One racing?
A:
Abu Dhabi will bring its own unique blend of culture, landscape and fans to the world of Formula One. We are looking forward to a long-term partnership with F1 and will ensure that it is a deep and ongoing relationship. We will do everything in our power to make sure that Abu Dhabi not only meets F1 expectations, but also contributes to the evolution and ongoing appeal of the sport.

Q: The driving force behind the race is the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. Is the aim to put Abu Dhabi on the global map by connecting it to a global event like Formula One racing?
A:
Definitely. Formula One is unique in terms of its international reach and appeal - we therefore expect the Grand Prix will have an extremely positive effect on the region’s tourism.

Q: And does Formula One racing blend in perfectly with the other international projects like the art museum designed by Jean Nouvel and the establishment of a major scale golf tournament?
A:
Absolutely. Abu Dhabi’s hospitality, genuine warmth of its people and world class facilities, is increasingly making the city one of the most sought-out destinations in the world. Securing the 2009 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will certainly reinforce Abu Dhabi’s existing position as a global city.

Q: But there also must be an enthusiasm for Formula One. Where does your enthusiasm come from?
A:
We are talking about one of the world’s leading sporting events. Formula One generates a level of global interest that is seldom matched by other events and Abu Dhabi shares that enthusiasm for the sport. On top of that, the UAE’s interest in motorsport and all things automotive is significant. Emiratis have a definite interest when it comes to motorsports, whether it is on land or sea. We believe that there will be an overwhelming response to the ability to access the world’s leading motorsport championship through the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.

For further details, see the official Abu Dhabi Grand Prix site at
www.abudhabigp.com