The Stig (left) and Chris Harris (right) of Top Gear at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Courtesy BBC/STARZ Play Middle East.
The Stig (left) and Chris Harris (right) of Top Gear at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Courtesy BBC/STARZ Play Middle East.

Taking laps with Top Gear’s Chris Harris and The Stig at Yas Marina Circuit ahead of new season

It's not every day you find yourself debating the wisdom of a hearty breakfast as you're thrown around Yas Marina Circuit at 241 kilometres per hour in a car driven by Top Gear's very own The Stig. But then, it's not every day that Top Gear, the world's most popular motoring show, celebrates its 23rd series finally reaching screens in the region thanks to an exclusive deal between BBC Worldwide and streaming service STARZ Play Middle East.

This season is the show’s first since the highly publicised departure of former hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, The Stig was as talkative in real life as his famously silent TV persona suggests, so instead we sat down for a chat with co-host Chris Harris after our spin around the track.

While audiences across the Middle East may only just be settling down for season 23, Harris’s thoughts are already on the next season, which is due to begin production in two weeks. As expected, the show is again the source of intense speculation following the departure of Chris Evans after just one series, and fellow host Matt LeBlanc’s future on the show.

Harris wasn’t giving too much away, but the former YouTube star did admit that we may see a lot more of him in season 24.

"All I can say is that if you don't like seeing me on Top Gear you're going to be disappointed in the future — I'll be doing a bit more, yeah," he reveals. "Other than that, beyond the announcements that have been made in the last few months about who is definitely leaving and who is definitely staying, don't expect any changes."

It’s unsurprising that the new version of the show has faced a few teething issues — Clarkson and co had helmed the show for 12 years, taking it from niche petrolhead territory to the BBC’s biggest global brand — and Harris admits that stepping into their shoes was a challenge. “It was daunting, but the great thing about a brand as big as this is that you’re surrounded by people who know what they’re doing and look after you. They know what they want from the brand and you can’t step beyond that. That means for me, rather than worry about the enormity of it and how many people watch it, all I wanted to do was discharge my duty on the show.”

Harris has a simple but effective interpretation of precisely what that duty is. “I know what I do,” he says. “I drive cars, quite fast and sideways, and I talk about them and entertain people through the medium of cars. I’ve done that for 15 or 20 years and I’m quite good at that. It’s if you step out of that that you get in trouble, so I’ve just focused on what I do and left the amazing team of people I’m surrounded by to do their stuff.”

Although he is committed to just carrying on doing what he does he best, Harris concedes there are some marked differences between producing his web show and a behemoth like Top Gear.

"When I do stuff for my channel, I've got Neil, my cameraman and editor and the talented one in the duo, as a two-man band doing literally everything ourselves. Then with Top Gear, well, take the time I landed here in Abu Dhabi to shoot the [Aston Martin] Vulcan episode at Yas for this series in March — we're 34 people walking through customs full of bags and you're thinking 'we're going to make seven minutes of television here, this is ridiculous.' But it's what you need. Just go and study those films, they are easily the equal of anything on television."

Viewers can look forward to seeing the Vulcan take on Yas Marina Circuit’s bends in episode four of season 23. Although the team weren’t officially here to shoot on this publicity trip, we could yet be in for a surprise — Harris had been distracted by events taking place out on the circuit before we sat down to talk, and he could hardly wait to get back outside.

“We’re not shooting this time round, but a [McClaren] 675LT and P1 just turned up, so we’re going to get out and film them on the circuit after this — that’s pretty spectacular if you’re into cars. You just wouldn’t see it anywhere else in the world.”

Top Gear, season 23, is available now at


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

New schools in Dubai

Company name: SimpliFi

Started: August 2021

Founder: Ali Sattar

Based: UAE

Industry: Finance, technology

Investors: 4DX, Rally Cap, Raed, Global Founders, Sukna and individuals


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


Norway 1 Spain 1
Norway: King (90+4')
Spain: Niguez (47')


2.15pm Maiden (PA) Dh40,000 (Dirt) 1,200m

Winner Shawall, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi (jockey), Majed Al Jahouri (trainer)

2.45pm Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,200m

Winner Anna Bella Aa, Fabrice Veron, Abdelkhir Adam

3.15pm Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,200m

Winner AF Thayer, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

3.45pm Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,700m

Winner Taajer, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

4.15pm The Ruler of Sharjah Cup – Prestige (PA) Dh250,000 (D) 1,700m

Winner Jawaal, Jim Crowley, Majed Al Jahouri

4.45pm Handicap (TB) Dh40,000 (D) 2,000m

Winner Maqaadeer, Jim Crowley, Doug Watson

The Super Mario Bros Movie

Directors: Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic
Stars: Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Seth Rogen and Keegan-Michael Key
Rating: 1/5

India Test squad

Kohli (c), Dhawan, Rahul, Vijay, Pujara, Rahane (vc), Karun, Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ashwin, Jadeja, Kuldeep, Pandya, Ishant, Shami, Umesh, Bumrah, Thakur


Everton 2 (Tosun 9', Doucoure 93')

Rotherham United 1 (Olosunde 56')

Man of the Match Olosunde  (Rotherham)

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture


UAE group fixtures (all in St Kitts)
Saturday 15 January: v Canada
Thursday 20 January: v England
Saturday 22 January: v Bangladesh

UAE squad
Alishan Sharafu (captain), Shival Bawa, Jash Giyanani, Sailles Jaishankar, Nilansh Keswani, Aayan Khan, Punya Mehra, Ali Naseer, Ronak Panoly, Dhruv Parashar, Vinayak Raghavan, Soorya Sathish, Aryansh Sharma, Adithya Shetty, Kai Smith

Dr Amal Khalid Alias revealed a recent case of a woman with daughters, who specifically wanted a boy.

A semen analysis of the father showed abnormal sperm so the couple required IVF.

Out of 21 eggs collected, six were unused leaving 15 suitable for IVF.

A specific procedure was used, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection where a single sperm cell is inserted into the egg.

On day three of the process, 14 embryos were biopsied for gender selection.

The next day, a pre-implantation genetic report revealed four normal male embryos, three female and seven abnormal samples.

Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 


Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, Abu Dhabi Sunshine Series

All matches at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Test series

1st Test: Zimbabwe beat Afghanistan by 10 wickets
2nd Test: Wednesday, 10 March – Sunday, 14 March

Play starts at 9.30am

T20 series

1st T20I: Wednesday, 17 March
2nd T20I: Friday, 19 March
3rd T20I: Saturday, 20 March

Supporters in the UAE can watch the matches on the Rabbithole channel on YouTube

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now


6.00pm: Heros de Lagarde
6.35pm: City Walk
7.10pm: Mimi Kakushi
7.45pm: New Kingdom
8.20pm: Siskany
8.55pm: Nations Pride
9.30pm: Ever Given


Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded