Yas Marina, Ten Years Later

Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, encircled by the most high-tech Formula One race track on the planet, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this November! What a time it was for me back in 2009 completing the gorgeous and eye-boggling mega-yacht marina capable of berthing 143 of the finest and largest private yachts in the world!

Yas Island Marina, Formula One Track, Yacht berthing
Yas Island Marina, Formula One (F1) Track, Yacht berthing

When I arrived in Abu Dhabi from California in May 2007, the government was in the midst of recruiting a talented team consisting of master planners, designers, consultants, decision makers, architects, engineers and project managers – all with world-class credentials – to convert Yas Island into a world-class destination.

We were given a seemingly unattainable 30-month deadline to design, build and complete one of the largest construction projects in the world at the time consisting of the F1 race track, the Yas Hotel (renamed Viceroy), an architectural marvel, Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor theme park, Yas Marina and its iconic Yas Marina Yacht Club, numerous other hotels and an 18-hole Championship Golf Course, along with massive infrastructure. 45,000 laborers arrived to convert a bare sand island from a drawing to a grand reality.

I had forecast that Yas Marina would host the largest number of mega-yachts to ever assemble in the Middle East. I further anticipated 5,000 people, consisting of many world leaders, corporate heads, celebrities and their guests, would view the F1 race from the comfort of the private yachts. Both forecasts were spot on.

A Marina of this scale had never in history been built in a dry hole.
A Marina of this scale had never in history been built in a dry hole.

My marina team met the 30-month challenge. It required the experience and dedication of many of the world’s most talented professionals, all with whom I enjoyed working. Yas Marina placed Abu Dhabi on the map as a premier global yachting destination. 

I clearly recall how proud I felt throughout that inaugural F1 race week in Abu Dhabi in 2009. Along with over 40,000 racing enthusiasts in the grandstands, I watched Sebastian Vettel cross the finish line first. It was a pinnacle of excitement and pride.

Yas (Viceroy) Hotel with 5,300 LED panels that light up the night with changing patterns and colors.
Yas (Viceroy) Hotel with 5,300 LED panels that light up the night with changing patterns and colors.

While other sports have stars that rise and fall from year to year, the F1 drivers are much the same today – ten years later. The cars’ technology has advanced exponentially, as has the driver’s bankrolls, and the races continually offer some of the most memorable excitement in the sports world.

The 21st and final F1 race on the 2018 circuit will be held in Abu Dhabi on 25 November!

Steve