WWE champion Kofi Kingston grateful for Saudi welcome

Kofi Kingston
Updated 07 June 2019

WWE champion Kofi Kingston grateful for Saudi welcome

  • Kingston told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is one of his favorite places to tour

RIYADH: Reigning World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion Kofi Kingston believes that what makes touring different during his time as champion is the opportunity to travel the world and perform live as a way of saying thank you to his fans. 

He said that without the WWE Universe supporting him this year his championship run would not have happened. “They demanded that it happen and we ran with it and here I am a WWE champion,” Kingston said.

Kingston told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is one of his favorite places to tour. He said it was great to perform in front of people who helped him to his position — the fans in Saudi Arabia and throughout the world who have been part of his push this year as a WWE superstar.

“I can’t wait to go to Saudi — the energy there is off the charts. Every time we go people are so excited to see us, the events are second to WrestleMania with all the fanfare and pyro. It’s an awesome time for us as performers to be part of that positive energy,” he said.

Kingston was the first WWE superstar to visit Saudi Arabia in 2014 to promote the first non-televised WWE live shows in the Kingdom. 

Kingston fondly remembers how people welcomed him and were so friendly. 

“Honestly, it was one of the favorite parts of my career. I remember I was at a coffee shop with some local youths and we got to just sit around and talk. We talked about their dreams, their aspirations, and things they wanted to see — and one of the things they wanted to see was WWE performing live in Saudi,” he said. 

The WWE champion said that these were kids who had a big dream. Fast forward years later and the WWE has had multiple successful shows.

“I am sure that those same kids were part of the crowd in some of these shows so to be part of somebody’s dream ... hope and the completion of that dream is awesome. It is an amazing feeling and it is powerful to have impacted somebody’s life in a positive way. To me that’s what it’s all about and that’s why I love coming to Saudi,” he said.

Kingston, who made his WWE debut in 2008, is set to make his second pay-per-view title defense against former two-time champion Dolph Ziggler at Jeddah’s WWE Super ShowDown. 

He is one of the longest-reigning members of the WWE locker room who has just seen his career culminate at the “showcase of the immortals” 35th annual WrestleMania, where he won his first WWE championship in his career. 

Kingston holds the record for most days as Tag Team Champion within the WWE and is also known for his innovative ways of suspending his elimination from Royal Rumble and battle royal matches.

Saudi Arabia’s biggest celebration of motor racing returns with Formula E back at Ad Diriyah

Updated 25 June 2019

Saudi Arabia’s biggest celebration of motor racing returns with Formula E back at Ad Diriyah

  • The event will take place on Nov. 22 and 23
  • Two major races will take place in this year’s E-Prix, which made its Middle East debut in the Kingdom last year

RIYADH: This year’s Formula E season will kick off with a doubleheader in Ad Diriyah in November, backed by a huge festival of off-track action, music, culture and heritage.

The 2019 “Saudia” Ad Diriyah E-Prix promises to eclipse the inaugural 2018 edition, with two races, instead of one, being staged at the stunning UNESCO world heritage site of Ad Diriyah, and with crowds of up to 100,000 expected to attend.

Last year’s sell-out E-Prix featured music icons such as David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, One Republic and the Black-Eyed Peas, performing as part of the racing championship’s debut in the Middle East.

2019 will see Porsche and Mercedes competing for the first time, boosting the number of cars on the track. Plus, Ad Diriyah will be ready to welcome even more international tourists, after the surrounding At-Turaif district finalizes its ambitious development program.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), said: “Formula E’s arrival in the Kingdom was a watershed moment for us, one that thousands witnessed together.

“The 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix excited our nation through its exhilarating action, heroes and entertainment. Thanks to the ambitions of Vision 2030, it was the biggest festival of sport, music and culture the Kingdom has ever seen.

“This year we look forward to igniting an even bigger season of motor racing for Formula E, to welcome even more international visitors, and to create another unforgettable moment for our people.”

In a recent interview with the UAE’s The National newspaper, DJ David Guetta hailed the 2018 event, which included the country’s first unsegregated concerts.

“I’m really proud that I’ve done this. There is obviously a very big effort in Saudi to open to music and to artists. And as an artist, I play for the people and the people were obviously so happy,” he said.

“It was incredible to see men and women dancing and letting go of everything. It was a great honor for me to be part of this.”

Last year saw travelers from 80 different countries flock to the event, taking advantage of the first-ever 30-day tourism visas issued under the new online Sharek immigration system. For 2019 the process has been enhanced to make visiting the Kingdom even easier.

Second staging

The 2019 E-Prix will be the second of a 10-year partnership between Formula E, the GSA and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). The event will be staged again by promoter CBX, which successfully created the racetrack and venue in the heart of the heritage site.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of SAMF, said: “In 2018 the track proved itself a world-class venue for motorsport, hailed by racers as one of the most exiting they have faced.

“This year sees even more teams enter the championship, with Porsche and Mercedes entering the fray. Last year Ad Diriyah was the launchpad for the new ‘Gen 2’ race cars and the exciting ‘Attack Zone’ innovation. This year will be the first time drivers will have an additional 10 kilowatts (kW) of power available when using the ‘Attack Mode,’ rising from 225kW to 235kW.

“Add to that, a double header — two races instead of one — with a total of 24 cars competing. This will fire up Saudi Arabia’s passion for motorsports, and we are ready to welcome Formula E back.”