Members of royal families from all around the world will also put in an appearance during Grand Prix weekend. Regulars include King Abdullah II of Jordan, while the UK’s Prince Harry attended last year’s championship decider.
This year, we might catch a glimpse of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, the son of American actress Grace Kelly. He is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with assets valued at more than US$1 billion (Dh3.6bn). The renowned Ferrari fan was even given an exclusive tour of Ferrari World before the Yas Island theme park opened for business five years ago.
Abu Dhabi resident Gail Walster – who now works as a teacher at Cambridge High School in Mohammed bin Zayed City – wasn’t expecting a prince to cross her path in 2013 when she was working for a company that had a boat at Emirates Palace Marina.
“We were setting up on the boat for an event, the day before the F1 started,” she says. “It was a particularly quiet day. Down in the marina, I knew everybody who was there and it caught my eye when a new speedboat pulled up right next to where we were sitting.
“On board was a gentleman passenger and two beautifully dressed ladies. I extended a friendly ‘good afternoon’, the ladies smiled and the gentleman was particularly friendly – he said, ‘Hi’. I said, ‘Welcome, I haven’t seen you before.’ He said, ‘Oh no, we’re just visiting.’ I said, ‘You’ve picked a wonderful time to visit Abu Dhabi, particularly because tomorrow the Formula One is starting’. He said, ‘Oh, really?’ I said, ‘Yes, and we’ll have a boat down there – if you get the chance, try to visit, the Grand Prix is a wonderful event and you’ll get to see Abu Dhabi at its finest.’
“I wasn’t sure who this gentleman was but when I turned around, there was a whole fleet of black cars and security waiting. I said, ‘Oh, there’s obviously some celebrity arriving.’
“My friend started laughing. She said, ‘Gail, he has arrived. That was the Prince of Monaco.”