Dubai-based artist brings her creativity to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Rabab Tantawy during the second free practice at the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday. (Supplied photo)
Rabab Tantawy during the second free practice at the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday. (Supplied photo)

Born in 1971, the same year as the UAE's formation, Tantawy said her artwork is a tribute to the country on its Golden Jubilee


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 11 Dec 2021, 12:58 AM

Dubai-based artist Rabab Tantawy is on cloud nine seeing McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo vroom in their cars with vibrant livery during the practice sessions of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Tantawy has become the world’s first artist to have her original design appear as a livery of an F1 car. McLaren Racing and its principal partner BAT offered this historic opportunity to the emerging expat artist from Cairo.

Born in 1971, the same year as the UAE’s formation, she said her artwork is a tribute to the country on its Golden Jubilee.

“This happening in the UAE’s and my 50th year is a big zeal. I probably wouldn’t have this opportunity if I wasn’t here in the UAE. I owe it to the UAE. Some 12 years ago, I started my art career here. I have worked with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority on a lot of projects. They have given me the Golden Visa too,” a beaming Tantawy told Khaleej Times as cars tested the newly configured track of the Yas Marina Circuit.

It took her six months to create this artwork, which features her Nubian series and McLaren’s iconic papaya and blue colourway.

“This is for the first time that an artwork is appearing on an F1 car. I am the first artist to do it in F1 history. What makes it special is that a female from the Middle East, who lives in the UAE, has achieved this in the Year of the 50th.”

Tantawy says creating a unique work of art was a big opportunity but an equally important responsibility.

“It was a challenge for me. I had to make sure that I make everyone proud in this country. I had to ensure that F1 fans are happy with the livery and the look.”

And Tantawy is enjoying the limelight after receiving rave reviews.

“The response has been amazing. I am over the moon right now. There have been a lot of technical parts to the project. Automotive media designer Davide Virdis helped me. It wasn’t an easy thing but a very enjoyable process. You know that you are making something, which is going to make history,” she said.

Her husband and three kids are elated to witness the historic artwork on F1 cars.

“We are big F1 fans. We never miss a race. We watch all of them. My son rides motorcross on the Jebel Ali motorcross track,” she said.

The artwork is the first project of BAT’s recently announced Driven by Change initiative, which sees grass-root creative talent given opportunities in motorsport to showcase their work.

John Beasley, group head of brand building, BAT, said: “We want to really focus on providing support and opportunities for talent as we further champion the diversity of people and skills in the creative world.”

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