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.


Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

Updated 17 February 2019
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Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

  • Defeat leaves Real in third, nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
  • Girona had not won in the league since November.

LONDON: Santiago Solari insisted Real Madrid could still win the La Liga title despite a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Girona.
The capital club were coming off a five-match winning streak, but were not able to get past their relegation-threatened rivals at the Bernabeu, conceding twice in the second half after taking a 1-0 half-time lead.
Girona had not won in 13 matches in all competitions and were coming off six straight losses. The Catalan club had not won in the league since November and had entered the weekend one point from the relegation zone. So to say this was a shock would be understating the case, Real were on the up, and this was supposed to be an easy win to aid their slim title hopes and add to the momentum of their good 2019 form.
But Solari — clearly a “glass half full” man — claimed Real’s title charge was far from over. Asked if the title was lost, the Argentine, who took over the asked Julen Lopetegui in October, said: “Not at all, not at all, next week there is another match, our rivals, too. All the matches are difficult, as Girona have shown today, we have to keep winning to try to cut the gap.
“This is football and there is always a rival, in this case Girona, who played well.
“In the second half there was a lot of energy. Girona were forceful when they attacked and we lacked clarity. The fatigue is not only physical, it is mental, concentration. We come from a major bustle, many games with good results, and that may have happened to us at the energy level in the second half. It’s likely.”
The surprise defeat dropped Madrid to third place and left them nine points behind Barcelona, who edged Valladolid 1-0 on Saturday with a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi. The result at the Nou Camp ended a three-game winless run for the Girona neighbors in all competitions.
Madrid had won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the only setback a 1-1 draw at Barca in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. They had cut Barcelona’s lead from 10 points to six in recent rounds after seeing their arch-rivals go through a slump.
Solari made some changes to the starting lineup, leaving Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale on the bench after they started midweek in the 2-1 win at Ajax in the Champions League second round clash.
Casemiro opened the scoring with a firm header from near the penalty spot in the 25th minute after a cross by Toni Kroos, and Girona equalized with a penalty kick converted by Cristhian Stuani in the 65th after a handball by Sergio Ramos inside the area.
Girona had a golden chance to equalize about five minutes before the penalty, when Aleix Garcia’s close-range shot went over the crossbar. The visitors moved in front with a 75th-minute header by Portu after Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois initially saved a shot by Anthony Lozano.
Portu had hit the post a few minutes earlier with a booming shot from inside the area.
Solari put on Vinicius Junior and Bale in the second half, but they were unable to save Real. Courtois made it to the area in a last-gasp attempt, but could not get enough on his header, sending the ball just wide of the post.
As if to emphasize the dire day, Ramos was sent off in 90th minute after receiving a second yellow card.