Al-Hilal remain confident they can complete star signing of Omar Abdulrahman

Pointing the way to Riyadh? Al-Hilal certainly hope so as they look to sign UAE star Omar Abdulrahman. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2018

Al-Hilal remain confident they can complete star signing of Omar Abdulrahman

  • Riyadh giants are hopeful UAE playmaker will in in their side for next season.
  • Al-Nassr also fancy signing 26-year-old Al-Ain star.

Despite a late hijack attempt from Riyadh rivals Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal are confident of landing regional superstar Omar Abdulrahman on a season-long loan sooner rather than later.
The United Arab Emirates playmaker is the hottest property in West Asian football and Al-Hilal are close to making a deal with the 26-year-old who was born in Riyadh and a boyhood supporter of the traditional giants of Saudi Arabian football.
With his contract at Al-Ain at an end, the player is free to go where he wants and despite links with clubs in Spain, France and the Netherlands, looks set to start the coming Saudi Professional League season with Al-Hilal before returning to Al-Ain next summer.
The Saudi champions had hoped to announce the deal on Aug. 6 but the late entry of Al-Nassr into the equation has turned a long-running transfer story into something more dramatic and expensive.
“We have been talking to the player and while it has taken time, everything has progressed smoothly,” an official at Al-Hilal told Arab News.
“We are operating against time as the transfer window in Saudi Arabia closes on Aug. 23 but we should get the deal done much before then.”
Al-Hilal are aware of the interest from their Riyadh rivals.
“We know that other clubs want the player, he is a very good player, but we are sure that Al-Hilal are the only club in Saudi Arabia that he would think about playing for. He would be a fine addition to our squad.”
It may have been easier for Al-Hilal had Al-Ain chairman Ghanem Al-Hajjeri not publicly spoken on the matter last week.
“There are many serious offers to Omar Abdurahman, and the club that convinces him and offers a lucrative offer will win the deal,” Al-Hajjiri said.
That encouraged Al-Nassr who, like Al-Hilal with Sami Al-Jaber, have a new, energetic and ambitious club president in Saud Al-Swailam. The club were not prepared to comment on Abdulrahman, who has been the subject of speculation ever since making an international name for himself at the 2012 London Olympics, however.
According to reports, Al-Hilal were initially ready to pay  around $5.9 million in total in order to secure the services of “Amoory” for a year before his return to Al-Ain, currently the only club he has ever played for. Al-Nassr, however, have indicated their willingness to pay more than $8 million. Al-Hilal have subsequently increased their offer but refused to say by how much.
“A player of that quality does not come cheap,” said the Al-Hilal official. “But he is worth the money. He will not need any time to settle or adapt. He has lots of experience in the Champions League in Asia and will create lots of chances for our players.”
It is not the first time this summer that the Riyadh giants have clashed in the transfer market. According to reports in Portugal, the homeland of Al-Hilal’s new coach Jorge Jesus, the defending champions were close to a deal with Benfica’s free-scoring Brazilian Jonas Goncalves but Al-Nassr have been trying to persuade the 34-year-old to change his mind.
Whatever happens with Abdulrahman and Goncalves, both clubs have already been busy in the transfer market ahead of the new season that kicks off later this month.
Al-Hilal have signed Spanish defender Alberto Botia and Peruvian international Andre Carrillo.
Al-Nassr, third in the league last season, made headlines last week with the capture of Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Premier League club Leicester City, and former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones. The club has also recruited, among others, Peru center-back Christian Ramos and Moroccan international Nordin Amrabat. The 2018-19 Saudi Pro League season kicks off on Aug 30.

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.