Emirati sisters, Saudi breakout stars: Drivers to watch out for at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 

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The Formula 1 isn’t the only race to look forward to at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina this weekend. (Supplied)
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Amna and Hamda Al-Qubaisi will hit the track (Supplied)
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Fans will spot Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher, in Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2019

Emirati sisters, Saudi breakout stars: Drivers to watch out for at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 

  • Emirati racing sisters Amna and Hamda Al-Qubaisi will hit the track during the F4
  • Jeddah-born Reema Juffali will also take to the F4 track

ABU DHABI: The Formula 1 isn’t the only race to look forward to at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina this weekend — the addition of the Formula 2 and an F4UAE Trophy Round to the on-track action will be sure to delight motorsport lovers. Read on for a guide to the young drivers to keep an eye on this weekend.

F4UAE

This is the first time the category has accompanied the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend and will showcase an important step on the motorsport ladder in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 4 is a relatively new addition, only starting in 2014, and sees championships in individual countries as opposed to a world championship.

For many of the next generation of drivers, their career in open-wheel racing starts in F4 after breaking out of the karting scene.

The cars are identical in each championship but four chassis and four engine manufacturers are homologated by the FIA. Those engines are limited to four cylinders and a maximum output of 160 horsepower.

This season sees 10 drivers competing including three from the region itself, including Emirati racers Manaf Hijjawi and sisters Amna and Hamda Al-Qubaisi, who are both making their debut in the supporting F4UAE series.

Also competing in the F4 Trophy Round grid is Jeddah-born Reema Juffali, who was the first Saudi woman to race in the Kingdom, British-born Alex Connor, and Dutch rising star Tijmen van der Helm, who scored eight podiums in his first year of F4 in Spain.

Formula 2

The F2 is the final step before Formula 1. This means that the drivers competing in the Formula 2 are the potential F1 drivers of tomorrow.

Competing racers looking to make a mark on motorsport this weekend include 2019 champion Nyck de Vries, Canadian F2 driver Nicholas Latifi, Italian series veteran Luca Ghiotto and 20-year-old Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher.


Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

“Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story, but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. (Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2020

Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

CHENNAI: Sooni Taraporevala gained immense fame by writing for Mira Nair’s films, such as “The Namesake,” “Mississippi Masala” and the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay.” In 2009, Taraporevala stepped behind the camera to helm a small movie called “Little Zizou” about the Parsi community. It was a hit, and three years ago, she took up the camera again to create a virtual reality short documentary about two boys from Mumbai’s slums who became renowned ballet dancers. 

Taraporevala converted her documentary into a full-length feature, “Yeh Ballet,” for Netflix, and the work, though with a somewhat documentary feel, is fascinating storytelling — a talent we have seen in her writings for Nair. 

Happily, “Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story (of the kind “Gully Boy” was), but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. The film begins with a breathtaking aerial shot of the Arabian Ocean on whose shores Mumbai stands — an element that points toward the director’s background as a photographer. 

The film chronicles the lives of Nishu and Asif Beg. (Supplied) 

A story inspired by true events, “Yeh Ballet” chronicles the lives of Nishu (Manish Chauhan) and Asif Beg (newcomer Achintya Bose). The two lads are spotted by a ballet master, Saul Aaron (British actor Julian Sands) who, driven away from America because of his religion, lands in a Mumbai dance school.

Nishu and Asif, despite their nimble-footed ballet steps, find their paths paved with the hardest of obstacles. When foreign scholarships from famous ballet academies come calling, they cannot get a visa because they have no bank accounts. And while Asif’s father, dictated by his religion, is dead against the boy’s music and dancing, Nishu’s dad, a taxi driver, feels that his son’s passion is a waste of time and energy.

Well, all this ends well — as we could have guessed — but solid writing and imaginative editing along with Ankur Tewari’s curated music and the original score by Salvage Audio Collective turn “Yeh Ballet” into a gripping tale. It is not an easy task to transform a documentary into fiction, but Taraporevala does it with great ease. Or so it appears. Of course, the two protagonists add more than a silver lining to a movie that will be long remembered — the way we still mull over “Salaam Bombay” or “The Namesake.” But what I missed was a bit more ballet; the two guys are just wonderful to watch as they fly through the air.