There has long been talk of races in the Middle East but the only major event

was in Dubai in December 1981 when British businessman - Martin Hone, who later

organized the Birmingham Superprix - organized a Grand Prixon a makeshift 1.6-mile

track around the Hyatt Regency Hotel. There was talk at the time of the track

being extended but the Dubai GP never happened. The Arab world became more interested

in rallying with the highly-successful Middle Eastern Rally Championship.

In 1995 there was a brief flurry of excitement in the region when it was announced

that there were plans for a race to be held in Qatar. A year later Abu Dhabi

announced that it had similar plans. Neither materialized.

By 1997 there was talk of a race in the war-shattered Lebanese capital Beirut

in an effort to restore the international image which the city had enjoyed in

the 1950s when it was one of the most glamorous spots in the Mediterranean.

In 1999, however, Ecclestone visited both Dubai and Cairo to discuss races with

the local authorities. The Egyptians were keen to discuss a Grand Prix in the

desert, as a means of rebuilding the country's tourist industry which was virtually

destroyed in November 1997 when Islamic extremists massacred 58 international

tourists in Luxor. Dubai was also keen on promoting tourist trade, using tourism

as a means of replacing lost revenue as oil reserves dwindled.

In the end Bahrain beat them all to a race, concluding a deal in 2002 to run

a Grand Prix at an all-new facility in 2004. The construction work was carried

out by a local building contractor and by the Malaysian firm WCT Engineering,

which built the Sepang circuit outside Kuala Lumpur. The new track has been

designed by Hermann Tilke.

TIMETABLE: (In Local Time - GMT+3)

Friday, April 2nd:

Practice Session 1 - 11:00-12:00

Practice Session 2 - 14:00-15:00

Saturday, April 3rd:

Practice Session 3 - 9:00-9:45

Practice Session 4 - 10:15-11:00

Qualifying Session - 14:00-15:00

Sunday, April 4th:

Race - 14:30-16:30


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