Saudi Arabia’s e-visa system goes live with Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix tickets sale

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The new Gen2 Formula E car, being showcased on the sidelines of the press conference in Ad Diriyah. (Center for International Communication (CIC), Ministry of Media, Saudi Arabia)
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His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Vice-Chair of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority; and Felipe Massa, Venturi Team Driver, at an official press conference on Tuesday, September 25, to launch the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix, which will be staged at a stunning UNESCO heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh on 15th December 2018. Tickets for the event, now open to international visitors for the first time, are on sale at www.sharek.sa/formulae now. (Sportscode)
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The new Gen2 Formula E car, being showcased on the sidelines of the press conference in Ad Diriyah. (Center for International Communication (CIC), Ministry of Media, Saudi Arabia)
Updated 30 September 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s e-visa system goes live with Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix tickets sale

  • The platform offers a seamless ticket purchase and online visa application process for sporting fans from around the world
  • The venue of the event, the ancient city of Ad Diriyah, the first seat of power for Saudi’s Kings, is itself a draw for international tourists

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority (GSA) on Sunday announced details of its new electronic visa system, Sharek, which has gone live and will allow international motor racing fans to travel to the Kingdom for the December 15 Formula E race, the Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix near Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia is very excited to be inviting international tourists into Kingdom for the first time as tickets for the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix go on sale via its new visa platform new  Sharek,” GSA said in a statement.

Described as a ‘milestone’ for Saudi Arabia, www.sharek.sa/formulae has gone live. In a first move to open its borders to international visitors, GSA announced last Tuesday the launch of Sharek. 

The platform offers a seamless ticket purchase and online visa application process for sporting fans from around the world wanting to experience the biggest festival of racing, live music and entertainment, including thrilling action on the track and global superstars performing on stage over three days at historical Ad Diriyah, on the outskirts of Riyadh.

With the tickets for the December 15 event now on sale, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “This is an exciting milestone for us. When you host international championships, you have international fans who want to attend. And, of course, the best way to see Saudi Arabia is to visit through sports, this isn’t just the first way, it is the best way.

“I want them to see Saudi Arabia, I want them to see my country, I want them to meet the people and to see who we really are. The best way for people to see the real Saudi Arabia is to come and this is their chance. We are very welcoming and I’m sure people will have a different point of view when they do.

“We are very lucky to have the support of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and hopefully this will be the starting point of more events and more accessibility for fans and for people who want to visit the Kingdom.”

The venue of the event, the ancient city of Ad Diriyah, the first seat of power for Saudi’s Kings, is itself a draw for international tourists, being a stunning UNESCO heritage site. Via www.sharek.sa/formulae, travelers who buy a ticket for the race can obtain a 14-day visa for SAR640, the equivalent of approximately $170.

That allows for full entrance to the event, free mobility within specific Saudi territories. Applicants simply need to complete their personal details online, upload a photograph and a copy of their passport, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will then confirm eligibility within seconds. After payment, the visa will be emailed to the international traveler and this can be printed off and used to enter Saudi Arabia. The Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah remain off-limits to non-Muslim travelers.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “We are the first event that will be enjoying this new system of visa, only by buying a ticket for the race you can come into Saudi Arabia with a visa. I think this means another element of how Saudi Arabia is opening up for tourism. I think that is a great change.”

Princess Haifa al Saud, secretary general of the Formula E local organising committee, said: “For the first time we get to show the world what Saudi Arabia is really about from the inside, to see our youth, to feel the energy that we have, to understand us more, our culture, our tradition, our background.

“They will see how full of energy and life we are and how much we are excited to host such an event here in our country.”

Tickets for the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix start from SAR395 for a seat in the grandstand and concert access and are available at www.sharek.sa/formulae. International travelers are limited to one ticket per visa.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”