Saudi Arabia expands motorsport reach with Dakar Rally deal

Saudi Arabia has expanded its reach within motorsport after it was confirmed on Monday that the country will be the new host of the Dakar Rally.

Saudi Arabia’s 2016-launched Vision 2030 initiative was designed to reduce its reliance on the oil industry and the Dakar Rally will be its third motorsport venture in as many years.

The Race of Champions visited capital Riyadh in early 2018 while last December the Formula E season opener was held around the streets of the city, the first event in a 10-year deal.

The Dakar Rally was last held in its native Africa in 2007 after the threat of terrorism forced organisers to cancel the 2008 running.

It has been held in South America since and earlier this year the 10-stage event was held solely in Peru.

Further details about the 2020 running of the event will be released later this month.

“The vision and guidance of our leaders have made our dreams and ambitions limitless and have set the sports scene in the Kingdom on a remarkable success route,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority.

“Today we are thrilled to announce that Rally Dakar, an event with a huge global appeal is coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for the first time.

“Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030, of which sport is a basic pillar.

“In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region and around the world.”