If you love cars, you’ll probably know that Top Gear is a popular BBC programme from the UK. Travelling the world in vehicles of all shapes and sizes, the show is focused on everything motoring. It’s been running since 1978 and is one of the world’s most-watched factual TV shows.
The vast expanses and mountainous rolling dunes of Abu Dhabi’s Rub’ al Khali desert, also known as the Empty Quarter, offer some of the most spectacular views and challenging terrains in the world. So when the team, led by Richard Hammond, arrived in Abu Dhabi, they needed something suitably monstrous to tackle the unforgiving landscape. Cue the awesome Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6.
Proving more than a match for the sea of ever-changing dunes - originally made famous in the 1940s by the British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, who crossed the Empty Quarter twice with his Emirati and Omani companions - Hammond and his monster Merc proceeded on a whirlwind tour of the emirate, taking in some amazing, and often unusual, sights along the way.
Cars are very popular here and, luckily, the infrastructure is available in the UAE. Look at Yas Marina Circuit; it was one of the main attractions when it came to production and, if you want to do some tests with dune bashing, there is nowhere better than Al Dhafra.
- Noura Al Kaabi,
then CEO at twofour54 and current Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development
The Yadi Yas, a meandering rubber-ring-filled lazy river at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s largest waterpark, is not the sort of place you’d expect to see a segment of the world’s most-famous motoring show being shot, but that’s exactly where Hammond turned up. Showcasing the six-wheel Mercedes’ aquatic capabilities, the Top Gear presenter took a leisurely drive through the one-metre-deep water-filled attraction before emerging unscathed, with astounded onlookers left in his wake.
To top off his Abu Dhabi adventure, Hammond was also handed the keys to Porsche’s 918 Spyder hybrid supercar and given full access to Yas Marina Circuit, home of the annual Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Other highlights of the Top Gear tour included the weird, wonderful and often oversized assortment of automotive exhibits at the unique Emirates National Auto Museum, which houses the personal car collection of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan; the 4.2km Sheikh Zayed Tunnel; the sea-facing Abu Dhabi Corniche; and the iconic Emirates Palace hotel.