Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates has been confirmed as the latest city to be added to the F1 calendar, with the first race scheduled for the 2009 season. The announcement was made on Saturday at the first ever Abu Dhabi F1 Festival, which saw both the President and the Crown Prince of the UAE, as well as F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone attend.

The new race will be located on a 2500 hectare purpose-built site currently under construction on Yas Island. The circuit was designed by renowned track designer Herman Tilke, and when complete will measure 5.6km and include 20 corners with 3 straights.

Many European F1 fans will be disappointed by the news including management at several key racetracks who are facing the possibility of hosting biannual events. Races like France, Britain, Germany and Belgium have been on the verge of losing out to countries outside Europe, and with South Korea joining the circuit in 2010 as well as a possible event in Singapore, the viability of many Euro circuits is in jeopardy. Bahrain’s F1 contract was also recently extended until 2013.

Following the Abu Dhabi announcement, Ecclestone also mentioned that he wanted a typical season to take in 20 events by 2009. "Currently we have five countries waiting to see if they can have a race on the calendar," he told reporters. "We're aiming for 20 races, but we're well served now in this part of the world with Abu Dhabi and Bahrain."