High-voltage thrills as roadshow sets stage for Formula E debut in Saudi Arabia

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E-prix enthusiasts will be the first to take advantage of the Kingdom’s new Sharek electronic visa system. (Suppllied)
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Updated 12 November 2018
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High-voltage thrills as roadshow sets stage for Formula E debut in Saudi Arabia

  • Hundreds of visitors from more than 50 countries are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on tourist visas issued in conjunction with next month’s inaugural Saudi Ad Diriyah E-Prix weekend

ALKHOBAR: Saudi Arabia is revving up for the debut of Formula E racing in the Kingdom with a two-day roadshow promoting the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix drawing motorsports fans and families to the Alkhobar Corniche at the weekend.
The “Road to Ad Diriyah” event offered crowds a taste of the excitement of Formula E and showcased the next generation of electric-powered racing cars that will take to the track at the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix near Riyadh from Dec. 13-15.
Racing simulators and interactive displays gave participants a chance to test their high-speed driving skills as they joined in the motorsports action at Alkhobar.
Two contestants, Abdullah Al-Dousari and Faisal Al-Qahtani, claimed victory in the ABB FIA Formula E Road to Ad Diriyah Powered by Nissan esports tournament, and will represent Alkhobar in the finals at Ad Diriyah next month for a chance to win prizes worth SR1 million ($270,000).
Saiid Al-Gurair, who brought sons Raed and Ali to see the Formula E car, said: “It is an amazing setup and a new experience. I have seen Formula 1 on TV but have not known Formula E until now. This is the first time we have had the Formula E experience. I hope we get to go to the race in Ad Diriyah.”
The Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix will see cutting edge electric race cars twisting through the streets of the UNESCO site as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship makes its debut not only in the Kingdom but also the Gulf region.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “We are pleased with the impact that the Road to Ad Diriyah touring e-village had on the people of Alkhobar. Such activities are a key component of the success of the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix.”
E-prix events will massively contribute to achieving many objectives as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, he said.
“For example, the event brought cutting edge technology to Saudi Arabia and is helping the search for more sustainable solutions in all areas. The track was purpose built in cooperation with UNESCO and ensures that we protect the heritage in Ad Diriyah. Now it is attracting tourists to experience the culture of the Kingdom and the race itself,” he said.
The Road to Ad Diriyah will move to Jeddah from Thursday, Nov. 22 to Saturday, Nov. 24.
Hundreds of visitors from more than 50 countries are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on tourist visas issued in conjunction with next month’s inaugural Saudi Ad Diriyah E-Prix weekend. It is the first time the Kingdom has issued tourist visas for an event apart from religious tourism and represents the first move to open its borders to international visitors.
So far, the US holds top spot for the largest number of visa holders, followed by the UK, Russia and Germany.
E-prix enthusiasts will be the first to take advantage of the Kingdom’s new Sharek electronic visa system. Visa applicants must buy E-prix tickets to secure a visa, which can be extended for 30 days after the Formula E festivities.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “We can promise a lineup both on the track, on stage and in a breathtaking historical setting that will excite fans across the world.”
Meanwhile, Ad Diriyah is bristling with activity to transform the ancient site into a race venue. With its characteristic clay architecture interspersed with palm trees, the site will offer a spectacular contrast of old and new as a backdrop to modern Formula E racing.
Tickets for the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix start from SR395 ($105) for grandstand seat and include concert access. International travelers are limited to one ticket per visa.


PWD-friendly infrastructure rebuilds completed in Two Holy Cities, Saudi Arabia tells UN

Updated 22 March 2019
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PWD-friendly infrastructure rebuilds completed in Two Holy Cities, Saudi Arabia tells UN

  • Infrastructure upgrades included public transport facilities
  • Centers for disability rehabilitation are growing across the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Major infrastructure rebuilds to aid disabled people have been completed in Makkah and Madinah, the United Nations heard on Thursday.

Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), made the announcement in Geneva during the 21st session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He said that the move came as part of a wider range of programs aimed at empowering the disabled in Saudi Arabia, to provide them with a suitable education, tools and the employment opportunities to ensure their independence and maintain a good quality of life. 

He added that the infrastructure updates included public transport facilities that were disability friendly, and easy access to government buildings and important historical and religious sites across the two cities.

“The Saudi government is keen to serve the Two Holy Mosques and other holy sites, and harness the necessary resources to serve pilgrims, and this includes the completion of major infrastructure targets that take into account the needs of people with disabilities,” Al-Aiban said.

“The government’s financial support for associations and NGOs for people with disabilities amounted to more than SR70 million ($18.7 million) in 2018. People with disabilities are also members of the Shoura Council, and hold leadership positions in various sectors. 

He also mentioned the recent establishment of the Saudi Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs, noting the growing number of centers for disability rehabilitation across the country, and the exemplary standards they set for disabled services in the Gulf.