ABU DHABI // All eyes were turned to the capital’s skies on Thursday afternoon as the Red Arrows performed over Abu Dhabi’s Corniche.
Hundreds gathered on the beachfront to watch the Royal Air Force’s world-famous aerobatic team twist and turn their bright red jets through a series of stunts, prompting spectators to “ooh” and “aah” in amazement.
Chloe Steele, from the UK, attended the event with her three-year-old son, who “absolutely loves watching the Red Arrows”.
“We’ve seen them perform three times before when we would go to sailing regattas [in the UK] and once in 2013 in Oman,” Ms Steele said. “My husband is at work, and I’ve had the flu. I wasn’t feeling too well, but I really did not want to let [my son] down.”
Fahmina Mohammed said she and her family drove from Dubai to the capital to watch the air show and attend the Beats On The Beach Event, which was headlined on Thursday night by singer Yeng Constantino, a household name in the Philippines.
“We read about it in the newspaper and we thought it would be a great opportunity to spend time together as a family,” said the 30-year-old, who was there with her brothers and mother.
“This is the first time we have watched something like this, and we think it’s spectacular.”
The Red Arrows performed for approximately 25 minutes as part of Yasalam 2016, which includes a series of free community events on the Corniche leading up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
For Joy Bayani, 41, from the Philippines, the Yasalam festival was about spending time with friends and colleagues.
“We really wanted to see what’s happening here, and we were very excited to come see the air show,” said the assistant school teacher.
“I have been living in Abu Dhabi for approximately two years now, and these kinds of events give us a chance to relax, spend time together and just, simply, have a good time.”
Eddie Casarininiz, 12, was sitting patiently on a stoop near his mother watching the Red Arrows perform as he waited for the live music shows to start.
“I’m so glad that we finished school early to come and watch this with my mum and dad,” he said. “I’ve seen them once before during a Red Bull event, and they were great.”
Joe F, 36, from India, said he left work early to pick up his wife and two-year-old daughter to go watch the aerobatic team.
“It’s not often that we have the opportunity to see something like this, and it’s entertaining not only for us, but for my daughter,” he said. “I sometimes feel there’s not enough for her to do, especially in the months when it’s too hot.
“She loves to be outside and she loves to be around people, and this is a good cheap way to have some nice clean family fun.”
The Red Arrows team, which includes nine display pilots and more than 100 support personnel and technicians, was in the UAE as part of their biggest oversees tour in a decade, which will take in 17 countries.