Yasalam Festival opens in Abu Dhabi with carnival-style parade

The flamboyant, carnival-style parade was part of Yasalam, a series of free community events on the Corniche leading up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 27.

Musicians, dancers and stilt walkers entertain the crowds at the Yasalam F1 Fan Zone opening parade along the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Onlookers were treated to a carnival extravaganza on the Corniche on Thursday as the 11-day Yasalam Festival started, signalling the lead-up to the F1 Grand Prix in the capital.

A parade of musicians, dancers and stilt walkers entertained, while hundreds of schoolchildren donned costumes representing the countries that host F1 races, including Australia, Mexico, China, Japan and Russia. One of the highlights was a parade of large puppets designed to represent an international race host country.

“It’s amazing seeing them in creative costumes and waving flags of various countries,” said Salem Al Hosani, 34, who was at the Corniche with his wife Salma and their three children, Shamsa, 10, Mohammed, 8, and Yousef, 1.

“Standing here makes me proud of my country, the UAE, for holding this event.

“Not only that, you see the ­different countries and cultures represented in the parade.”

Imtiaz Qureshi, 39, a sales manager from India, brought his children Ishaan, 5 and Iyaan, 4, to watch the opening parade.

“My kids loved it,” he said.

“I’ve been here for the past 10 years and it’s my first time to watch the Yasalam opening parade. It’s great to see such things.”

Six-year-old Theyab El Bhai, from Morocco, was thrilled with the parade.

“We came here for adventure, all around the world,” said the youngster.

“I loved the Chinese dragon dance and the costumes representing the USA, Japan and Mexico.”

After the parade, the F1 FanZone opened with live music and schools participating in the parade gathered in front of the stage for a prize-giving ceremony for the best costumes.

The winners were Reach British School for their Mexico display. “Viva Mexico!” the children shouted as they went up on stage to collect their prizes.

Al Diyafah International School and Belvedere British School, which represented China and the United States, were in second and third places.

This year’s programme ­promises Abu Dhabi residents and visitors another exciting mix of music, sport, community and motorsport events across the capital.

The F1 FanZone will offer fun and activities for motorsport enthusiasts at the West Plaza on the Corniche.

It will also have an outdoor screen to broadcast the practice, qualifying and all the race-day action from the Grand Prix. There will also be F1 simulators that put you in the driver’s seat of a race car and a pit-stop challenge where participants race against the clock to change the tyres of an F1 car.

Thousands of fans are also expected at the Corniche for the Beats on the Beach music gigs, which will be on from next Thursday to Saturday.

A full schedule of Yasalam events, a series of free events on the Corniche leading up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 27, can be found online at yasalam.ae.