Dakar Rally moves to ‘mysterious deserts’ of Saudi Arabia for 2020

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The Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia from 2020, organizers announced Monday. (Dakar Rally official website)
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Dakar director David Castera described the relocation to Saudi Arabia as "a voyage into the unknown.". (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 17 April 2019

Dakar Rally moves to ‘mysterious deserts’ of Saudi Arabia for 2020

  • The Dakar has been held in South America since 2009
  • Dakar director David Castera described the relocation to Saudi Arabia as "a voyage into the unknown"

LONDON: The Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia from 2020, organizers announced Monday, offering contestants an "unknown landscape and uncharted terrain".

"After 30 years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America, a new chapter in the history of Dakar will be written as the world's biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia," ASO said in a statement.

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.

Dakar director David Castera described the relocation to Saudi Arabia as "a voyage into the unknown."

"By going to Saudi Arabia, it is of course that aspect that fascinates me," Castera said.

"I'm convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all the riders, drivers and copilots. As the director of the event, it's a massive challenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities."

Castera said Saudi Arabia offered up "a monumental geography, made for the most audacious itineraries".

"We are spoilt for choice. Sports, navigation, a will to surpass oneself: all these aspects will naturally be glorified on this territory made for rally-raids."

Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority, said: “The vision and guidance of our leaders have made our dreams and ambitions limitless and have set the sports scene in the Kingdom on a remarkable success route. Today we are thrilled to announce that Rally Dakar, an event with a huge global appeal is coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for the first time.

“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.”

Chairman of the Saudi Arabian motor federation Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal added: “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.

“The vision and support of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the trust that GSA president Prince Turki Al-Faisal had put in us were key to our efforts to secure the hosting rights for an event of such a global magnitude.”

On the sporting front, Saudi Arabia has already managed to bring high-profile events to the Kingdom, in a similar vein to the UAE.

Saudi Arabia has recently hosted the WWE Crown Jewel, a Formula-E race on the streets of Riyadh and January's Italian Super Cup between AC Milan and Juventus, while an exhibition match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in December was called off because the latter was injured.

George Groves and Callum Smith battled it out for the WBA super-middleweight and World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) titles in Jeddah, while American Dustin Johnson won the European Tour's inaugural Saudi International in February.

(With Agencies)


Premier League players’ ‘backs against wall’ over virus, says Rose

Updated 05 April 2020

Premier League players’ ‘backs against wall’ over virus, says Rose

  • Top-flight stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from govt officials

LONDON: Newcastle defender Danny Rose is willing to contribute a portion of his wages to those fighting the coronavirus outbreak but says Premier League players feel their “backs are against the wall.”

Top-flight stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from government officials after a number of clubs said they would use public money to subsidize pay for nonplaying staff.

The Premier League said on Friday that clubs would consult players over a combination of pay cuts and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of their annual salary.

They agreed to provide a £125 million ($153 million) fund for the English Football League and National League and pledged £20 million in charitable support for those affected by the coronavirus.

Talks were due to take place on Saturday between the league, clubs and players’ representatives.

Newcastle, where Rose is on loan, and his parent club, Tottenham, are among clubs to have furloughed some nonplaying staff during the crisis, prompting criticism as players continue to receive their full salary.

“We’re all keen to make something happen,” said Rose.

“I can only speak for myself but I would have no problems whatsoever contributing some of my wages to people who are fighting this on the front line and to people who have been affected by what’s happening at the minute.”

On Friday, a hospital in London identified Rose as the individual behind a £19,000 donation to hospital funds.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson led talks between Premier League club captains over what action they could take, a move that begun before Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday joined those singling out footballers.

“We sort of feel our backs are against the wall,” Rose said. “Conversations were being had before people outside of football were commenting.

“I’ve been on the phone to Jordan Henderson and he’s working so hard to come up with something.

“It was just not needed for people who are not involved in football to tell footballers what they should do with their money. I found that so bizarre.”

Wolves captain Conor Coady said it was time for players to help out.

“It’s fantastic to see people trying to make the effort,” he said. “It’s something everyone wants to be part of. As footballers, it’s important we help as many people as possible.

“What’s come out now is the 30 percent cut. We get judged every single day of our lives. The time now is to go forward and make a donation.”

On Saturday, Burnley said they would face a shortfall of up to £50 million if the Premier League season could not be completed.

“It’s a completely unprecedented situation that we and other Premier League clubs face and which we could not have foreseen in anyway only just a few weeks ago,” said Burnley chairman Mike Garlick.

“It’s now not just about Burnley or any other individual club any more, it’s about the whole football ecosystem from the Premier League downwards and all the other businesses and communities that feed from that ecosystem.”