Hundreds of music fans from across the UAE gathered in Dubai to hear the news first, with a live announcement at Virgin Megastores in Mall of the Emirates – and free tickets given away to more than 200 lucky punters.
Jay-Z is the final music act to be confirmed this year’s races, and ahead of the news the rumour mill was turning at warp speed, with acts from Lady Gaga to The Rolling Stones bandied about in association with the empty Friday night slot.
But despite the depth and breadth of acts linked to the role, there was a gasp of excitement and a tangible buzz of electricity when Jay-Z’s name was announced live, at 4pm on Monday August 19.
The notorious rhymesmith joins previously-named headliners Muse and Depeche Mode to play at the fifth annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, who appear at the du Arena venue in Yas Island on Saturday November 2 and Sunday November 3 respectively.
Having sold at estimated 50 million records, Jay-Z is known as one of the most influential forces in modern hip-hop, with early albums including Reasonable Doubt (1996) and The Blueprint (2001) considered essential listening among younger rappers.
But aside from music the 43-year-old is also known as pioneer of the musician-turned-entrepreneur model. With a reported worth of Dhs1.8 billion, Jay-Z’s investments include a nightclub, clothing line Rocawear, and a stake in basketball team the Brooklyn Nets.