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Look at Yas Island, all grown up…well almost.

yas island madonna 2012

Earlier this week Kipp returned from the Madonna concert pretty shocked; and we are not just talking about Madge's questionable choice of costumes and dance moves.

June 6, 2012 2:55 by



Two years ago, this Kipper lamented about Abu Dhabi turning the tables on Dubai with regards to music concerts. At the time, I had returned from the Nelly Furtado concert held at the then called YAS Arena and I wrote of “a slight sense of resentment ebbing through me as I drove down to YAS Arena for the concert; resentment, because I can very easily remember the days when it was people from Abu Dhabi doing the 2 hour drive to get to concerts and events (in Dubai).”

Despite understanding things had changed, I drew comfort from the fact that Yas Island isn’t “quite there yet”. Navigating around the island was akin to moving about a ghost world. On either side of the road, silent abdandonded attempts at construction sat and lifeless traffic lights stared at me with three vertical black blind eyes. When I finally found my way to the concert (follow the traffic when UAE signage fails you-and it will fail you at Yas circa 2010) I was mildly impressed with the place. The usual set-up for a concert was in place but there wasn’t anything special-it was forgettable.

I can’t say the same thing from trip down to the du arena this week. For one thing, in comparison to the haunted abandoned sense of 2010, Yas Island looks almost inhabited with hotels like the Viceroy and Radisson,open, malls like Yas Mall and Deerfields on the way. For another, the du Arena has become something of a brand’s playground: the plaza was studded with a fanfare of sponsored kiosks each offering customers a chance to take their picture, dance on the stage (like Madonna) and get a make over. Brands present included HP, Clinique, Splash, Hardees and du. What a significant departure from the sleepy Yas I knew two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason I was so impressed probably had something to do with the tour I took of the Yas Marina Circuit earlier that day. The circuit has come a long way since its inception in October 2009 and I am almost convinced of the development’s projection as an entertainment proposition. Apart from being a motor enthusiasts paradise, Yas Marina is developing a reputation for hosting corporate events and team building activities.

Now, I wouldn’t quite say Yas Island has arrived, but it is getting there. It is getting there at such a significant pace that even as someone who has been in this country for 20 odd years and witnessed the steroid induced metamorphisis of Dubai, well, even I am impressed.



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