The news Abu Dhabi is to hold a grand prix from 2009 has been hailed as "good for Asia and good for the Middle East" - that is the view of the emirate's tourist board as the race looks to raise the profile of an area increasingly on the rise in the sporting world.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates is likely to host the race towards the end of the 2009 season, and it comes on the back of increasing Middle Eastern involvement at the top of the sport, the catalyst for which was the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix back in 2004.

"Over the last couple of years there have been a lot of sponsors coming into Formula One from the Middle East," stated His Excellency Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority (EAA). "Emirates Air sponsored McLaren last year for example. This is good for Asia and good for the Middle East."

Expressing his belief that the races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi would complement one another as the sport bids to gain an ever-stronger foothold in the UAE, he added he was pleased with the way the Formula One Festival and 'Tribute to the Champions' event had gone, and was now eagerly anticipating the emirate's first grand prix.

"We had great weather," His Excellency said. "It was very exciting for all the drivers, very exciting for all the crowds and very exciting for Abu Dhabi. We are honoured and privileged to have Formula One here in the United Arab Emirates, and we are delighted that from 2009 Abu Dhabi will hold a grand prix.

"Once we agreed we shook hands. There was no contract. That took another four or five months to finalise, but from the day we shook hands the commercial terms we honoured verbally were the same ones we stuck to all the way to the end.

"Spectators will enjoy high-speed action played out on three distinct sections of the 5.6km circuit, including high-speed areas ending in tight overtaking turns, a street section and a marine section. Each section of the circuit combines to deliver an unrivalled viewing experience.

"Abu Dhabi will bring its own unique culture, landscape and fans to the Formula One experience. The track design alone is an indication of the visionary approach we are taking and I am confident we will deliver something truly special."

His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, was equally positive about the announcement, ranking an event such as a grand prix in the same category as the Olympic Games or Football World Cup in terms of global recognition and exposure.

"Everyone working in the tourism sector will feel the immediate economic impact of this event for the profile of Abu Dhabi," he enthused. "It's really the best event that any destination can have."

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