Saudi Arabia launches new visa for events ahead of Formula E race

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Officials unveil the Saudia-branded Formula E car that will race in the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix. (Arab News)
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Officials unveil the Saudia-branded Formula E car that will race in the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix. (Arab News)
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Officials unveil the Saudia-branded Formula E car that will race in the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix. (Arab News)
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Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag was joined by F1 legend turned Formula E star with the Venturi team Felipe Massa. (Ali Al-Thahry)
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Photo: Ali Al-Thahry
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Photo: Ali Al-Thahry
Updated 14 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia launches new visa for events ahead of Formula E race

  • Saudi Arabia will open up its borders to fans of live sport, music and culture for the first time
  • The Ad Diriyah E Prix will be the first-time foreign travelers can access Saudi Arabia

ADDIRIYAH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia will open up its borders to fans of live sport, music and culture for the first time with the launch of a new online visa process dedicated to welcoming international tourists. The new visa process platform known as ‘Sharek’ will be introduced for the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix being staged at a stunning UNESCO heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh on December 15.

The ancient historical city of Diriyah, the first seat of power for Saudi’s Kings, will make history again by hosting the biggest festival of racing, live music and entertainment ever witnessed in the country, including thrilling action on the track and global superstars performing on stage over three days.




Photo: Ali Al-Thahry

Tuesday’s announcement at the venue, attended by Formula E stars including Felipe Massa, Susie Wolff and André Lotterer saw the new ‘Sharek’ platform launched as part of the country’s Vision2030 plan. Organizers hope that a large number of international fans will access the online visa process and travel to the country to witness the debut of Formula E in the Middle East and the debut of striking new-look Gen2 car for the start of season five.

 

 

In an event marked by many firsts, the Ad Diriyah E Prix will be the first-time foreign travelers can access Saudi Arabia in such a fast and uncomplicated process as it opens its doors to sports tourism.

The Kingdom’s commitment to tourism, a cornerstone of Vision2030, and the importance of Formula E within the sporting, social and business calendar of the region, was underscored by the announcement that Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) – the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia – is the new official airline partner of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the race title partner.




Photo: Ali Al-Thahry

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “This is a truly game-changing moment for Saudi Arabia and one that we can share with the world. It is very fitting that the such a futuristic and sustainable sport as Formula E is pointing to the future direction of our country. Naturally to have Saudia, our national carrier, as the new title sponsor signals our intent to reach out and invite fans to our historic and original capital.

“Saudi Arabia is home to literally millions of passionate young fans of motorsport. Many of whom simply cannot believe that Felipe Massa took the Gen2 car around the streets of the capital today and that they now have a ‘home race’ on the Formula E calendar. So already the excitement is building especially since we’re adding live music concerts to the weekend line-up.




Photo: Ali Al-Thahry

“With the introduction with ‘Sharek’ our visa entry process for fans worldwide, we can share the event.  We hope the Saudia Diriyah E Prix will see fans from around the globe come to Saudi Arabia to watch this epic sporting spectacle as now your ticket is your visa. We can promise a line-up both on the track, onstage and amongst a breathtaking historical setting that will excite fans across the world. It is the perfect combination of live sport, entertainment, technology and culture all in the one place and all at the one time.

“Saudi Arabia is racing into the future with Formula E as we open the Kingdom to the world in a transformation that is being supercharged by the Vision 2030 plan, and driven forward by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.”

At the launch ceremony His Royal Highness was joined by dignitaries from Saudia and a number of government entities working together to deliver the event, including the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation. From the racing world, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag was joined by F1 legend turned Formula E star with the Venturi team Felipe Massa and Susie Wolff, Venturi team principal and shareholder. Massa and Wolff have also been named as Saudia brand ambassadors.




Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag was joined by F1 legend turned Formula E star with the Venturi team Felipe Massa. (Ali Al-Thahry)

In preparation for the Formula E race, Saudi Arabia has worked with UNESCO to create the track from the historic city’s existing roads network, holding true to the sustainable nature of Formula E and minimizing noise pollution. The project has inspired infrastructure investment and conservation efforts around the archeological jewel, not only enhancing the site but proudly displaying it to the world.

Over three days throughout the Formula E weekend a series of cultural and entertainment events will be staged to ensure the race is memorable for fans, families and international tourists alike. Further details of an incredible global line-up will be announced in the coming weeks.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “We are not just opening up to international fans, but importantly we are opening up our nation to new and exciting sports. Giving new experiences. We hope some of the children who watch this first race will be inspired to be part of the industry over the course of the next decade. Ideally, they’ll be supporting, competing and winning on the track too. We firmly believe new opportunities will grow from the seeds planted from the historical roots of our nation in Diriyah.




Photo: Ali Al-Thahry

“This single event has the potential to change lives and change perceptions, both of the sport and of Saudi Arabia. The seeds are already growing, the track is taking shape, all with the approval of UNESCO. It is progress and preservation in one. Today is groundbreaking in all senses.”

The event is officially sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and its global safer driving campaign will be adopted and promoted.

Formula E joins sporting powerhouses such as WWE and European Tour Golf who have forged long-term partnerships with Saudi Arabia as it establishes its reputation as a destination for world class sports events.


Cannavaro’s Guangzhou end Kashima’s reign as Asian champions

Updated 19 September 2019

Cannavaro’s Guangzhou end Kashima’s reign as Asian champions

  • The Chinese giants reach the semifinals with a 1-1 draw in Japan

KASHIMA, JAPAN: World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro moved a step closer to AFC Champions League glory as his Guangzhou Evergrande side stunned Asian champions Kashima Antlers Wednesday on away goals to reach the semifinals.

The Chinese giants, who won the competition in 2013 and 2015, go through after drawing 1-1 in Japan following a goalless stalemate in Guangzhou three weeks ago.

Cannavaro, who lifted the 2006 World Cup as Italy’s captain, will be thanking his goalkeeper Zeng Cheng, who pulled off a string of world-class saves to keep his side in the match after they grabbed the crucial away goal before halftime.

A cagey start and mostly tepid first half from the two renowned attacking sides sparked into life when Anderson Talisca put the visitors ahead in the 40th minute.

The bleach-blond Brazilian midfielder rose highest to meet Huang Bowen’s corner on the right and head home unstoppably from close range.

Lacklustre Kashima had won their last six home games in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League, keeping three clean sheets, and the goal served to wake the Japanese giants.

They laid siege to the Guangzhou goal after halftime and it took just six minutes of the second period to equalize.

Leo Silva’s speculative shot was deflected past the unlucky Zeng off another Brazilian, Serginho, who was credited with the goal.

Kashima needed to score again to keep their title defense alive and coach Go Oiwa threw on his dual attacking threat of Yuki Soma and Ayase Ueda with 20 minutes to go as he went all out in search of the winner.

It almost paid off immediately as Oeda started a smooth passing move that culminated in Serginho rattling the crossbar with a superb 20-yard left-foot curler that had Zeng for once stranded.

Kashima kept pressing and Guangzhou and Zeng desperately kept them at bay until a dramatic fourth and final minute of added time. With just 10 seconds remaining Leo Silva danced into the box on the left flank, cut back toward the penalty spot and beat Zeng with a right-foot shot only to see it blocked on the line by a sprawling defender.

It was hacked clear as the referee blew for full time and the Guangzhou players to a man collapsed to the turf in relief and a large contingent of traveling fans from the southern Chinese city danced in the stands.

They go through to a semifinal against fellow two-time champions Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan next month, with the winners meeting either Al-Sadd from Qatar or Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal in November’s two-legged final.