Gruelling Dakar Rally route through Saudi Arabia’s ‘captivating’ deserts revealed by Sports Authority

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It was announced earlier this month that the race would be held in Saudi Arabia, and for the first time in the Middle East. (Twitter/Dakar Rally)
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It was announced earlier this month that the race would be held in Saudi Arabia, and for the first time in the Middle East. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 25 April 2019

Gruelling Dakar Rally route through Saudi Arabia’s ‘captivating’ deserts revealed by Sports Authority

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.

“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.

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.


Supporters of ‘Righteousness of Makkah’ campaign honored

Updated 14 min 59 sec ago

Supporters of ‘Righteousness of Makkah’ campaign honored

MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal honored the supporters of the “Righteousness of Makkah” campaign during a ceremony held on Sunday.

Prince Khaled ordered the launch of the campaign in all of the region’s provinces at the beginning of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, as a continuation of the humanitarian efforts and preventive measures, including the nationwide curfew.

The “Righteousness of Makkah” has contributed to helping needy families and business owners by providing food, health baskets and financial support to more than half a million beneficiaries.

It has also implemented the iftar program aimed at providing iftar meals for 1 million people, which provided 5 million iftar meals during the holy month of Ramadan.

 Prince Khaled also presented 30,000 gifts to security personnel, doctors, health practitioners and field workers across the region, while gifts were also delivered to the doorsteps of 12,000 other beneficiaries.

The ceremony also reviewed a study prepared by Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University under the title “Saudi efforts in times of humanitarian crises: The Righteousness of Makkah Initiative, a Model.”

 It discussed the Kingdom’s role in fighting COVID-19 and assessed the campaign’s social impact.

It also focused on several aspects such as the cooperation between the region’s relevant bodies, promoting a culture of volunteering, societal satisfaction, social solidarity, promoting citizenship, meeting the needs of citizens and residents, achieving mental stability and alleviating people’s burdens.

The study showed that the campaign’s hashtag was viewed more than 2.5 million times on social media.

Attendees were then shown a movie showcasing the efforts exerted and the work done by all of the region’s government bodies and relevant sectors since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.