“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last weekends weather was near damn faultless with bright blue skies, ideal temperatures with a slight breeze during the days coupled with exquisite evenings that were prefect for outdoor dining, drinking and dancing (not so much for the inevitable overindulging that accompanied the ideal conditions).
Now I’m not being smug about the weather, just appreciating the current conditions that we are experiencing because as we have entered March I am well aware that the warmer (massive understatement) and more uncomfortable humid, air-conditioned filled days and nights are looming in the not too distant future, the biggest peril of living in the desert, the summer months!
It was a busy weekend of events here in the capital so the good weather conditions were welcomed by all those organisers, participants and spectators. The teenager and I caught an hour or so of the Red Bull Air Race on the last day, that took place alongside the Corniche beach. Returning to Abu Dhabi after a hiatus for reorganisation and safety improvements, the aerial action took place again over an 8km stretch of the Arabian Gulf against the backdrop of the city and the new purpose-built destination race village built at the Corniche breakwater was open for business. Here are a few photos from the local media as the all the ones I took were absolutely shocking, basically just trails of smoke and no planes!
Thousands of spectators were enthralled by the stunning and thrilling aerobatics of the pilots over the three-day event. Friday was qualifying where twelve pilots performed a series of high-speed manoeuvres through the new taller 25-metre high inflatable pylons to determine their starting positions for Saturday’s race. Saturday saw the first cut with the fastest eight competing for a place in the last four, who qualified for a place in Sundays final. British pilot and defending champion Paul Bonhomme (winner of the last two world championships in 2009 and 2010) was crowned the winner again in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and will be looking to continue his unmatched run and win his third Championship title this year.
Spectators were also treated to the Challenger Cup, a new event where eight rookie pilots from seven countries raced to gain experience and sharpen their low-altitude flying skills. There was also an aerial display by Al Fursan (The Knights), the UAEs Air Force’s aerobatic display team. The team of seven aircrafts flew in perfect formation, demonstrating their precision, speed and control. One of the pilots performed a solo display, as the other six sped through the air releasing coloured smoke and making shapes such as a palm tree and a heart in the UAE national colours.
Another event drew to a close on Saturday evening, when the Qasr Al Hosn Festival culminated in a final night of celebration of Emirati culture, heritage and traditions. Located adjacent to the Qasr Al Hosn Fort which is Abu Dhabi’s most symbolic historic building, the final night of the ten-day festival saw the last batch of visitors eager not to miss the experience. Throughout the week guided tours were available inside the historic fort which gave visitors the opportunity to see close up the significant restoration work going on there and learn more about the special role Qasr Al Hosn has played in the development of the capital. The Cultural Foundation, offered a wide array of traditional handicraft workshops, storytelling, demonstrations and activities as well as an insight into Abu Dhabi’s Bedouin history.
The festival site was divided into four separate areas of Marine, Oasis, Desert and Abu Dhabi Island that each featured different elements of Emirati traditions and cultures with demonstrations and storytelling. When the teenager and I visited earlier in the week it was overflowing with both Emirati and expat visitors of all ages (see my festival photos here). A highlight of this year’s festivities was the dramatic Cavalia show which dazzled audiences with its remarkable mix of acrobatics and equestrian performance portraying the story of man’s relationship with horses.
As if that wasn’t enough going on, over at Yas Marina the region’s only day and night triathlon TriYAS took place for the fourth consecutive year. The event closed out February here with 1,300 triathletes swimming, cycling and running their way around Yas Marina and Yas Marina Circuit and I am sure they were glad of the great weather conditions on Friday.
In an event closer to home, the teenager and her fellow Prom committee members were on duty at their school, The British School Al Khubairat (BSAK), manning stalls at the International Fete. Organised by the Parents Association, the well attended event was raising money for the benefit of the school and its pupils including the Year 11 Prom. Fete-goers were offered cuisine from around the world at various world themed stalls as well as live music, dancing and fitness displays, the final of the BSAK Bake off as well as lots of local artisans selling their wares and fun sports challenges among other fun activities. The teenager and her crew were in charge of face painting, henna, fun Photo Booth style photography as well as abseiling off the roof of one of the school buildings! Myself and fellow dancer/cocktail drinker from the previous night nursed our delicate selves with coffee and homemade cakes, there in body but definitely not mind, nothing new there then!
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.