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The Formula One Abu Dhabi Night Life: A High Octane Thillfest

By Glenn Harris

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2013 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX was a three-day action packed thrillfest and there was a Grand Prix race there as well! There was a blistering pace of yacht parties, receptions, and high adrenaline clubbing specially designed for the uber-sexy and ulta-hip F1 crowd.

Formula 1 is first and foremost about the race and those 25 drivers who put their lives on the line to compete for the Grand Prix title while thrilling their fans along the way. See our write-up on the race and more at 2013 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX.

Yas Island in Abu Dhabi has hosted the Grand Prix event for only five years. The founding fathers of Yas Island made the F1 an integral part of their plan for developing the island. With that Yas Island Marina, the awe-inspiring Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi and even Ferrari World are all integrated into the the Yas Circuit and F1 racetrack and plan.

In its fifth year, the party scene has now matured to shine at the levels of other Formula 1 events around the world.  The yacht parties, events and receptions, and the exclusive velvet roped clubs and lounges made the three-day race weekend and unforgettable series of extravaganzas.

When the roar of the engines was silenced at the end of the day, our first stop in our nightlife hopping was the Iris Restaurant and Lounge.   The newly opened Iris is part lounge and a restaurant so one can get what ever they are looking for from dinner to drinks and a healthy dose of entertainment.  It was the perfect setting to take in the sunset as live music played while we enjoyed some of their specialty cocktails. The proprietors know how to provide a great experience for their patrons with their track record of successful lounges in Beirut and other locations.

The Iris

Good Times at Iris

The Iris Restaurant and Lounge has a fantastic ambience and a huge terrace with panoramic views of the marina’s dazzling yachts and the lights of the iconic Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi.   The wooden bar is a great space to watch their international bartenders muddle up pitchers of creative cocktails made with fresh fruits. Iris Abu Dhabi’s restaurant is a fine spot to dine on contemporary cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions.  It was the perfect place to cool down after the races for drinks, dinner, and to get the night started.

After Iris the festivities began to kick into high gear when we met up with friends dockside at one of the endless megayacht parties. These Soirees at Sea run from the low key networking events to the over the top club at the dock variety. Our first stop was the fete put on by The Crystal Group. The Crystal Group is known for creating exciting and original concepts in nightlife and entertainment to the Middle East. Their hot venue in Dubai is People by Crystal at the top of the Raffles Hotel and has been voted “Best Club in Dubai” by Time Out for the second year in a row. They know how to throw a great party and this was an awesome yacht party with the libations flowing and a bevy of beauties dancing to the clubs resident DJ. It was extremely exclusive and attended by the clubs regular patrons, VIPs, and Celebs. We were the guest of Dubai concierge extraordinaire and event promoter Andreas of the Dubaze Group ; a company famous for taking care of the night time needs of the rich and famous.


Boating Beauties

Beauties Sparkle at the Crystal Group Yacht Party

From there our next yacht hop was to the largest ship in the Marina, the MoonLight. This 280ft superacht is one of the world’s very largest and most impressive yachts and was the host location for several parties through out the four day weekend. We attended the Global Citizen Party where there was  bubbly and canapés at every turn along with the VIPs and F1 jetsetter crowd. The top deck was reserved for the VVIPs and was the first velvet rope behind the velvet rope of the weekend. The top deck was reserved for the Fashion TV party where models mixed with mega moguls. The DJ mixed the hottest tunes in a full on club set up with lights, sound, and copious amount Patron and Cristal. Celebrity footballer Maradona was in the house along side the other super vips.

By Invitation Only: The Yacht Parties

Yacht Hoppers


F1 Abu Dhabi Yacht Parties

After the yacht hop we decided to hit the concert. All of the F1 ticket holders received complimentary access for the F1 After Race concerts at the du Arena, with the impressive line-up including JAY Z, Muse,Depeche Mode, Amr Diab, Hussain Al Jassmi and Elissa. 

Jay Z thrilled the crowd performing his new hits from Magna Carta album to some of his older hits such as Dirt off your Shoulder, Empire State of Mind, and Hard Knock Life. For good measure he performed withTimbaLand who worked the frenzy of the packed du Arena with his book of hits. The amphitheater was full of preteens who were not even born when Jay Z hit the scene in 1996 to graying fans rapping along with each line and verse from all of Jay Z’s many hits.


The After Race Concert with Jay-Z

After the concerts, with only a half tank of gas in our energy reserve, we hit the Podium Lounge & Boujis - Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi. The Podium Lounge made its debut at this year’s F1 Abu Dhabi in style and provided a fabulous option for the racing community's A-list party elite.

The Uber Sexy F1 Crowd

Podium Lounge Heats Up

The Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is among the most beautiful hotels in the world and its architecture is absolutely stunning.  The Podium Lounge was on the top floor with views around Yas Island of the marina, racetrack and surrounding area. This is the pool deck was transformedinto an exclusive respite for models and millionaires in a chic lounge setting.


The star-studded party had only a capacity of 500 party goers to ensure its exclusivity and offered guests an opportunity to rub shoulders with personalities and the Who’s Who in the racing community while listening to international DJ’s including Sander Kleinenberg, Seb Fontaine, Hugo Heathcote, Miles Slater and Hollaphonic.


There was also a  fashion show with the Arab infused designs of Zaeem Jamal.  Zaeem Jamal is an innovative, unique and progressive luxury eveningwear brand and self defined Design Alchemy in Motion.   The fashion show added the perfect touch to the night with sexy models styling Zaeem Jamal’s dresses made of the finest silks and  semi-precious gemstones in vibrant, mood enhancing colours.   

This year, Cirque Le Soir rolled into Abu Dhabi over the Formula 1 weekend and pitched up its big top at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi . Cirque Le Soir was a circus spectacular and the most hedonistic party to take place over the race weekend. The weekend included performances by Nelly and Akon and many surprises along the way. 

Akon is not only a great singing talent, he is a mesmerizing musical magician with the ability casts a spell over his audience. I’ve seen Akon perform in mega concerts several times but to see him in this intimate setting was truly a treat for me and the 750 fortunates in the Cirque Le Soir when he performed. Opening his bag of tricks to take out his top hits including Right Now, Smack That, and personal favorite, Beautiful. The party went on to the wee hours of the night/morning as party goers left exhilarated albeit in search of the nearest shower and slumber.  


The pièce de résistance of the 2013 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX party buffet was  the Amber Lounge. It was the F1 Drivers  After Party’ of choice on and  the perfect end to an incredible weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.. We had the chance to experience the glitz and glamour of Amber lounge in Cannes, Monte Carlo and various places around the world over since they began 10 years ago. The Amber Lounge is a club that pops up on Yas Island and other F1s around the world and caters to a select mix of motor-racing drivers, celebrities, royals and the very, very rich. This was our first event in Abu Dhabi and it was beyond description. 

During this year’s F1 weekend, The Amber lounge brought in international performers, djs, and acts and a Methousalah of high energy entertainment to the party scene. For those who needed a break from the action, there was spacious terrace outside that provided the perfect place for conversation and decompression. There was also a shisha tent and other venues outside to chill.

Shisha Anyone?

Back inside, the libation flowed freely with ubiquitous Jeroboams of Cristal at every turn. The sexy international crowd was whipped into a frenzy by the International DJs from the UK and St. Tropez, who dropped beats to keep the party going all night. Just when we thought the frantic pace of the evening was about to ebb, we were riled by the heart-pumping live performance by English DJ and DrummerMckNasty who, in short, killed it. 

LA-based group Far East Movement gave a dynamic performance including their hits Party like a G6, Rocketeer, and Live My Life. F1 drivers including Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde joined Sir Christopher and Lady Sara Hoy, Ben Aislie, David Haye, Jessica Kahawaty and celebrated the end of the race at the Amber Lounge, enjoying the club’s exclusive entertainment and popping bottles until dawn.

The Amber Lounge has been impressing those lucky to get beyond its red carpet for 10 years. They consistently throw events that are the talk of the nightlife scene during F1. Amber Lounge was founded by Sonia Irvine, sister of Ferrari F1 star Eddie Irvine and launched at the Monaco Grand Prix in May 2003. The premise was simple: to create a truly VIP party that reflected the glamour and exclusivity of one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. Over the years, Amber Lounge has carved a reputation as a unique venue where F1 drivers, celebrities, royalty and regular race fans can come together to enjoy a stylish, fun night out. Amber Lounge parties have been hosted throughout the world including Shanghai, Valencia and Barcelona. One thing is for sure, is that a night at the Amber Lounge will NEVER fail to impress.

The 2013 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX was a hectic paced partyfest with as much drama and action away from the track as in the race.  It was an enjoyable three days of fun with fabulous parties and a glamorous and uber-sexy crowd.

Published on Dec 11, 2013

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