Saudi Arabia to host F1 powerboat world championship opener

The Dammam Grand Prix has attracted 18 powerboat racers from 11 countries. (Supplied)
Updated 26 March 2019

Saudi Arabia to host F1 powerboat world championship opener

  • The race, which features 18 drivers from 11 countries, will mark the end of the Eastern Province Season, the first of the recently launched “Saudi Seasons” tourism campaign

DAMMAM: The Kingdom will host the opening round of the UIM Formula 1 World Powerboat Championship (F1H2O) at the Dammam Corniche.
Considered one of the world’s most competitive, dangerous and thrilling sports championships, the event will begin next Thursday and run for three days, culminating with 20 of the world’s most famous powerboat racers competing for the grand prix on Saturday.
Hosted by countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the 2019 F1H2O circuits were officially unveiled at a press conference by the Union Internationale Motonautique (International Federation of Marine Sports) in Monaco on March 23, during which it was announced that Saudi Arabia will host the opening round, in the presence Prince Albert II of Monaco, world champion racers and senior F1H2O representatives.
The event will be held under the guidance of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, and in cooperation with the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation (SWSDF).
Dammam hosting the event is a result of the efforts by the General Sports Authority to bring sports activities to the Kingdom by hosting prominent international events to enhance the local sports sector. These efforts also aim to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s position as a leading sports destination in the Middle East, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The race, which features 18 drivers from 11 countries, will mark the end of the Eastern Province Season, the first of the recently launched “Saudi Seasons” tourism campaign, which includes 11 tourist seasons spanning most of the Kingdom’s regions.
“The General Sports Authority is looking to significantly augment the local sports sector with various sports, leisure and tourism activities to boost its development and sustainability and key related sectors such as leisure and tourism, as well as strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a leading destination in the Middle East for the world’s largest events,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said.
“We value the partnership we have forged with the International Federation of Marine Sports, through which we seek to support the Kingdom’s drive to transform the sports sector from the traditional model to a competitive model that boasts attractive investment, entertainment and tourism opportunities by adopting the very highest international standards.”
Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation, said: “We are proud to host the F1 Powerboat World Championship and the 11 countries who are participating in the Dammam race. It will be the perfect culmination of the Eastern Province tourism season, the first of the recently launched Saudi Seasons initiative. Through these water sports, we aim to establish a new sports program of events and activities that will encourage more people to play sports and introduce these types of water sports to Saudi youth.”
Prince Sultan said that the event is expected to draw more 20,000 spectators from Saudi Arabia and abroad: “I take this opportunity to invite everyone to come and enjoy the event. I would also like to thank the event sponsors, and look forward to the results of the tremendous joint efforts between the various government bodies to provide a modern and unique experience for excitement and adventure seekers from Saudi Arabia and abroad.”
“Sports events hosted by Saudi Arabia in collaboration with global partners send a clear message that the Kingdom is opening its doors to the world and introducing it to its natural wonders and varied terrains, especially in the Eastern Province,” Prince Sultan said.
Former F1H20 President Nicolo di San Germano said: “We are delighted to start the 36th season of the UIM F1H2O World Championship in Dammam. I would like to thank the General Sports Authority, the SWSDF for their hard work and cooperation that has enabled us to extend our racing footprint in the Middle East and return to Saudi Arabia.”
“The championship and the sport of powerboat racing have a historic, highly successful and valued association with GCC countries which began in 1993, and we look forward to a renewed and long-lasting association of racing in Saudi Arabia,” di San Germano said.

13th edition of Souk Okaz begins as part of Taif Season

Updated 10 min 2 sec ago

13th edition of Souk Okaz begins as part of Taif Season

  • Taif Season is one of the 11 festivals aimed at transforming the Kingdom into an important global tourist destination

On behalf of King Salman, Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal launched Souk Okaz — which is part of Taif Season — Tuesday night.

Prince Khaled was received at Souk Okaz by President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) Ahmed Al-Khateeb and Taif Governor Saad Al-Maimouni. Ambassadors, diplomats and others from inside and outside Saudi Arabia also attended the event.

The launch ceremony started with the Saudi national anthem followed by a video presentation about the history of Souk Okaz, which —  according to Taif Season spokesman Naif Al-Osaimi — opened in 501 CE. It was reopened 12 years ago and has since been an annual international culture festival.

The presentation was followed by an operetta — “Arab 501” — based on the Mu’allaqat, the seven poems from the pre-Islamic era traditionally believed to hang in the Kaaba at Makkah. “Arab 501” starred some of the best talent from around the Arab world, including Mohammed Abdu of Saudi Arabia, Kadim Al-Saher of Iraq, and the Lebanese singer Carole Samaha.

Prince Khaled then presented the Poet of Okaz award —  and the attendant SR1 million ($266,640)cash prize — to Saudi poet Mohammed Ibrahim Yaqoub. Yemeni poet Abdullah Obaid was awarded SR500,000 for second place, while SR250,000 went to Saudi poet Azzam Al-Ghaithi for coming third.

Prince Khaled was briefed on recent developments at Souk Okaz, including the amphitheater on Okaz Boulevard, which can accommodate 5,000 spectators for its theatrical equestrian shows.

Prince Khaled pointed out that the Souk will see further development in the near future, adding that the Kingdom’s security, stability, culture and economy are a result of several factors, chief among which is, he said, the country’s adherence to Islam.

“Souk Okaz has added a lot to Taif Season, although every event has its own taste,” SCTH’s director general in the Makkah region,  Mohammed Abdullah Al-Amri, told Arab News.

“Our main target is to bring Taif back to the frontline of Arab tourism,” said Al-Osaimi. “Today’s operetta may help put Taif again on top of Arab tourism as a meeting place and a resort for Arabs. We have 11 Arab countries participating in this edition of Souk Okaz and we are determined to introduce new events and activities at Souk Okaz to meet the needs our audience.”

Taif Season is one of 11 festivals aimed at transforming the Kingdom into an important global tourist destination. Dozens of events have been taking place this month in the southwestern city, which is famous for its heritage and beautiful landscapes.

Souq Okaz is one of the main attractions of the event. At the Souq, people can experience the culture of 11 different Arab nations by visiting pavilions showcasing the food, art and commerce of the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. There is also, of course, a pavilion for the host nation.

The Souk will also play host to some of the region’s biggest music stars between August 23 and 30, including the UAE’s Ahlam and Hussein Al-Jassmi, Assala Nasri of Syria, and the Kingdom’s Abadi Al-Johar and Dalia Mubarak.

This is the third edition of Souq Okaz since King Salman gave SCTH the responsibility of organizing the event in coordination with executive bodies in Makkah region.