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.


The deluxe delights of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira

The hotel is located on Jumeirah Beach Road across from Mercato shopping mall. (Supplied)
Updated 22 min 44 sec ago

The deluxe delights of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira

  • New arrival justifies its place in Dubai’s already packed luxury hotel roster

DUBAI: Does Dubai really need another luxury hotel? If you had to pause to think about it, then you’re not Dubai. Four Seasons? We’ll take two, please. One&Only? Go on, give us two more. Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria? Oh why not, we’ll take two each. 

And yet, until earlier this year, one might say there was a gap in Dubai’s collection for a Mandarin Oriental, a hotel for all great hotel cities. 

It’s here now, located on Jumeirah Beach Road across from Mercato shopping mall and beside a drive-through Starbucks. It’s easy to miss the modern low-rise building perched just off the sidewalk because of its subtle (possibly a new addition to Dubai’s dictionary) daytime presence.

The seafront suite at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is one of a kind. (Supplied)

It is only after dark that it becomes more remarkable, when a forest of crystal trees lights up its lobby, and it sparkles like a jewel box through the glass from the sidewalk right through to the beach. 

There are further design delights in my deluxe sea-view room, which has a balcony overlooking the pool area. The centerpiece is the soaker tub in its expansive marble bathroom — which is almost the size of the sleeping area that it opens onto — complete with handily placed heated towel rack. My enthusiasm for the bath is momentarily dulled when sand-colored water gushes from the tap, but this is fixed by a few technicians who respond immediately when I call.

The hotel has luxurious bathrooms and interior. (Supplied)

Although I’m not usually impressed by hotel-room technology — too often fancy light switches only complicate a simple matter — this room has a few stand-out features. The curtains open and close automatically not only with a bedside button, but also when I go to part them; the lights in the walk-in closet turn on automatically upon entering; and even the blow dryer is touch-activated. 

It’s not just the technology that demonstrates attention to detail. The closet contains a yoga mat and beach bag. On the desk, there’s a small stack of books, including Peter Frankopan’s  “The New Silk Roads.” There’s also a box of coffee-table-sized books that turns out to be four hefty room-service menus: Middle Eastern, Asian, International and Healthy. All of which meant there was little reason to leave the room, if it wasn’t for a dinner reservation at Netsu, the hotel’s Japanese restaurant.

The curtains open and close automatically not only with a bedside button, but also when you go to part them. (Supplied)

An event in itself, Netsu is equipped with a glass-walled warayaki cooking theater, where chefs grill wagyu beef on a 900-degree fire. My friend and I are seated at a bar facing the glass, where we watch them stoking the fire with rice straw brought in from Japan. The tender meat is uniquely flavored, proving that it’s more than just a show for Instagram.

It would be hard to find more self-assured service than the kind shown to us by our waiter, Nick, who is definitive in his starter recommendations. “I won’t take no for an answer,” he tells us, and we’re pleased he didn’t. The Korean fried chicken, corn tempura and yellowtail tiradito are all worth their place on the signature tasting menu.

Netsu is equipped with a glass-walled warayaki cooking theater. (Supplied)

Breakfast in The Bay, the hotel’s brasserie-style restaurant facing the beach, makes less of an impression. While there was nothing wrong with the buffet, the staff seem oddly perplexed by my request to order à la carte. 

And while a peaceful day by the pool was threatened by a few loud teenagers throwing balls, the adult-only infinity pool on the rooftop, for hotel guests only, provided much-needed escape. At first it seemed odd that it was stationed outside the windows of Tasca, the Portuguese restaurant by Michelin-star chef José Avillez. But as the kitchen prepared for dinner, a waiter brought out small tasters, including avocado tempura, for the sunbathers to enjoy on our cushy daybeds with a vast view of the sunset over the Arabian Gulf.

So while Dubai might not need another luxury hotel, it can certainly use this one. To borrow the Mandarin Oriental’s slogan, I can definitely say: “I’m a fan.”