Last Sunday, Abu Dhabi motorists were treated to an unusual sight as around one hundred British cars ranging from a rare Caterham Super 7, to a 90 year old unique red Daimler of England SP 250, to an iconic London taxi cab, descended on the streets of the city.
Christened the ‘Great British Car Rally’, the celebratory motorcade - the first of its kind in the UAE - was organised to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II and the strong, historic friendship between the UK and UAE. The rally was organised by the British Embassy and Yas Marina Circuit. Key sponsors of the event included Premier Motors, Abu Dhabi Motors, Al Habtoor Motors, and the International Automobile and Touring Club. UK Ambassador to the UAE, Dominic Jermey said:
“The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee has been a once-in-a-lifetime cause for celebration in the UK and around the world. I have been proud to see the excitement around Her Majesty's Jubilee here in the UAE. The Queen has visited the UAE twice in her sixty year reign, most recently in 2010. That visit was a clear testament to the enduring bonds between the UK and the UAE – bonds built on friendship and a unique and shared history.
People from the UK and UAE share many things, including a passion for cars. Given the popularity of British automobile manufacturing, engineering and design here in the UAE, a car rally seemed to be a fitting yet unique way to celebrate this special milestone.”
Starting at the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi at 6pm, the motorcade travelled along Abu Dhabi’s iconic Corniche en route to the Yas Marina Circuit, where rally participants first did a loop of the F1 race track before mixing and mingling at a reception at the Circuit’s main pit garages. At the reception, the guests were able to admire the iconic Rolls Royce that HM The Queen travelled in when she first visited the UAE in 1979 and kindly lent by Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. The Rolls Royce that her husband, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh travelled in during that visit was also part of the rally, and was kindly lent by its owner Mr Omar Shams.
Richard Cregan, Chief Executive Officer of Yas Marina Circuit added that the rally was also a first for the Circuit: “With the British Grand Prix just around the corner, it’s great to have so many iconic British made cars on Circuit to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.”
Six classic cars were kindly lent by Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. Organisations such as the UAE Ministry of Interior, Emirates National Auto Museum, Al Ain Classic Car Museum and the UAE Armed Forces Military Museum also provided special support at the event.
Captain Rashid Al Tamimi, Owner of Al Ain Classic Cars Museum and General Manager of Abu Dhabi Classic Cars Club said: "We highly appreciate the kind invitation to take part in such a fantastic event. I have always been a great fan of British heritage, classic and high-end modern cars, particularly due to their excellent engineering and design."
In addition to a reception, a raffle for rally participants saw Gilgamesh Kabir, walk away with a Bentley for a weekend, Gillian Duncan, win a week long test drive of a 2012 Jaguar, whilst Melissa Ford, collected a weekend test drive for the new MINI Coupé.
The Great British Car Rally was one of a number of events hosted by the British Embassy UAE to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In true British street party style, the British Embassy in Dubai opened up its lawns up to the British and International community who picniced whilst enjoying live transmission of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant down the River Thames.