It's not scheduled to open before 2009, but we're already looking at flights to Abu Dhabi. (Yes, Abu Dhabi, that obscure place Garfield used to send Odie to.) Why? Well, because of a little project underway that'll do a lot to put the place on the map. The project we're talking about is Ferrari World, the high-octane theme park currently under construction in the small gulf emirate. We've reported on the project previously, but new reports suggest the park could now include a world-class F1-spec race track.
The circuit would accompany Ferrari World along with beaches, night clubs, restaurants, high-end stores, luxury hotels, premium condos, golf courses, two marinas, a polo field and equestrian facilities (for those other prancing horses), all on a 6000-acre plot on Yas Island, the largest isle in Abu Dhabi. The park will be linked by a ten-lane highway to the newly-expanded Abu Dhabi International Airport, facilitating the hoards of tourists the oil-rich royal family is anticipating will flock to this new destination.
Don't read too much into the addition of the racing circuit to the plans. While lower-rung racing events (touring cars, GP2, Champ Cars) could be held there, Bahrain has a multi-year deal with F1 Management for the only grand prix in the region (Turkey notwithstanding). When that contract expires, we wouldn't be too surprised if Abu Dhabi put in a serious competing bid. The royal family's business front, Mubadala Development Company, owns significant interest in two F1 teams: Ferrari (5%) and Spyker (17%).