Emiratis will play a bigger than ever role in ensuring the safe and efficient running of this year’s Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
A record number of 130 UAE nationals are among the first batch of 420 volunteers who tomorrow (Friday) begin intensive training as marshals for the showpiece event at Yas Marina Circuit on 4 November.
It marks another milestone for the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and its president, Mohammed ben Sulayem, in the successful drive to become fully self sufficient in providing the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a completely local-based team of marshals.
When the race was first staged in 2009, half of the 700 marshals needed for the event had to be brought in from the UK because of a shortage of UAE-based volunteers with sufficient motor racing experience. By then FIA vice president Sulayem had already implemented a comprehensive five-year plan to establish a permanent pool of UAE-based motorsport marshals to service the FI Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the growing overall needs of motorsport in the Emirates.
This was achieved two years ahead of schedule, and the ATCUAE’s performance in demonstrating the highest standards of motor sport marshalling and training was officially recognised last year by the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body, with the award of Regional Training Provider (RTP) status.
Joining an elite group of only three other clubs worldwide granted RTP status, the ATCUAE became eligible to train other national motor sport authorities (ASNs), with financial support from the FIA’s Motor Sport Safety Development Fund.
There has been a high demand for its services, particularly from ASNs across the Arab world. The ATCUAE sent a team to Kuwait in March to deliver a rally training programme and is sending training teams to Algeria and Tanzania next month.
ATCUAE trainers will also go to Sudan later in the year to oversee the setting up of a national motor sport structure. As part of that process, officials from the Sudanese Automobile and Touring Club will attend today’s marshals training session at Yas Marina Circuit.