AL-QADDIYA: More details about the Dakar Rally expected to take place in January 2020 in Saudi Arabia were released on Thursday by the Kingdom's General Sports Authority at an event in Al-Qaddiya.
The race starts on Jan. 5 in Jeddah, with the drivers set to race through Al-Madinah, Tabuk and Ha’il regions before a having a rest day in Riyadh. From the capital, the route winds its way back toward the coast through the Asir region and ends in the city of Al-Qaddiya on Jan. 12.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal announced a 10-year partnership with the Dakar Rally, saying: "We want the world to see the captivating desert of Saudi Arabia and to get to know the good and hospitable people of the Kingdom that looks forward to receiving the world.
His Royal Highness, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud @AbdulazizTF, chairman of the @gsaksa_en « Dakar rally will grow farther and we will write a new chapter! We are happy that we all together witness this big event for the first time in the region!⁰#Dakar2020 pic.twitter.com/or6Dm0LOUc— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) April 25, 2019
“Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030 of which sport is a basic pillar.
“In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region and around the world.”
It was announced earlier this month that the race would be held in Saudi Arabia, and for the first time in the Middle East.
Chapter 3 : Asia— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) April 25, 2019
Discover the unknown! Here are some of the best footages of the beautiful landscapes of Saudi Arabia Thierry Sabine ”What’s amazing is that the more we look for difficult terrain, the more the landscape is outstanding.”#Dakar2020 pic.twitter.com/VejYcpIBiT
The Dakar has been held in South America since 2009. The gruelling multi-stage rally was previously held in Africa but was relocated after terrorist threats in Mauritania in 2008.
Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said when the race announcement was made: “I have always wanted to participate in Dakar Rally, while I wasn’t fortunate to achieve that ambition, I’m now part of achieving a much bigger dream for my country as Dakar comes to the Middle East region for the first time ever.”
CEO of Qiddiya project Michael Reininger said: "Qiddiya will soon become the centre of the motorsports world by virtue of an unparalleled collection of on track and off road facilities and a set of experiences and events that have never been assembled in one place before.”
The CEO of the rally's organizing company, Amaury Sport Organization, Yann Le Moenner thanked the princes for their commitment to bringing the rally to Saudi Arabia, adding: “Crossing the best deserts of the world has always been in the DNA of the Dakar, to discover and share.”
Dakar Rally director David Castera said: “Following 30 years of discoveries, fateful encounters, and exploits, Étienne Lavigne rose to a new challenge when he took the rally across the Atlantic to South America and brought Dakar fever to a new continent. Now, the time has come to set a new course and enter uncharted territory with the next destination of the Dakar and its competitors in Saudi Arabia.”
Meanwhile, the drivers involved in the rally have been in Saudi Arabia soaking up local culture and experiencing some of the desert landscapes they will drive through in January.
A number of Dakar Rally drivers led by Nani Roma, Carlos Sainz and Sam Sunderland visit touristic and historical monuments in Riyadh before the start of the #Dakar2020KSA press conference. pic.twitter.com/IMmZ7GE465— General Sports Authority (@gsaksa_en) April 25, 2019