Dakar Rally to kick off in Asia for first time in history

The route for the Dakar Rally will pass through NEOM, the Red Sea Project and Qiddiya. (SPA)
Updated 09 September 2019

Dakar Rally to kick off in Asia for first time in history

  • The race will begin in Jeddah on Jan. 5

RIYADH: The world is waiting for the Kingdom to host the Dakar Rally 2020, one of the world’s most difficult and most famous desert rallies. Registration is now open for the historic event, which will be held for the first time in Asia after a 30-year domination by Africa and South America.

The race will begin in Jeddah on Jan. 5, from where contestants will travel thousands of kilometers in 10 stages in cars and on motor bikes modified to cope with thisgreat challenge.

Contestants will be passing through cities rich in history and aspiring projects such as NEOM, the Red Sea Project and Qiddiya. They will go along the Red Sea and then head inland to face the challenges of the high sand dunes, passing through the Red Sea Project, the aspiring tourism project which embraces 90 unspoiled islands as well as mountainous and desert areas and will offer a unforgettable experience to visitors.

Competitors  will head toward NEOM, 26,500-square-kilometer futuristic city located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, with a waterfront stretching over 460 kilometers.

The competition will move forward to Riyadh, the Saudi capital embracing big companies and brands. They competitors will rest there for a day before heading to ​​Qiddiya, the heart of futuristic entertainment, with more than 300 entertainment and
cultural facilities.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the chairman of KSA’s General Sports Authority, said: “The agreement to host the Dakar Rally, which has been known as the world’s toughest race for many years, is a way to introduce to the world Saudi’s stunning scenery, vibrant cities and immense desert, whose dunes interlace with the sea. The world will get a chance to learn about the Kingdom’s rich history, get to know its good and hospitable people and witness its qualitative transformation.”

Prince Abdul Aziz added: “The Dakar Rally will channel the true image of Saudi Arabia to the world, at all levels: sports, entertainment, culture, heritage and tourism, in addition to promoting its ability to compete with the world’s most powerful countries in organizing international events, as a message of openness and love to the entire world.” 

Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “Participants in the Dakar Rally 2020 will face great mental and physical challenges throughout their route. They will be facing the towering sand dunes while enjoying stunning scenery at the same time. They will also get the chance to admire the unique breathtaking golden dunes of the Empty Quarter desert (Al-Rub Al-Khali).”

He continued: “For this event to be a global success, we joined forces with the Red Crescent, the Civil Defense, the security forces, the municipalities of the cities through which the race passes, and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.”

Al-Hilal advance into AFC Champions League semifinals

Updated 18 September 2019

Al-Hilal advance into AFC Champions League semifinals

  • Riyadh-based team beat Al-Ittihad of Jeddah in the all-Saudi final eight showdown

JEDDAH: Al-Hilal battled from one goal down early to beat Al-Ittihad in the all-Saudi quarterfinal and advance to the AFC Champions League semifinals at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.

After a goalless draw in the first leg in Jeddah, Ittihad looked to have the advantage of  the away goals rule after scoring in the 10th minute courtesy of Ziyad Al-Sahafi.

But the Riyadh-based Hilal regrouped and tallied three unanswered goals to qualify for the final four on 3-1 agregate victory in the two-leg final eight contest. Hilal meet Qatar’s Al-Sadd in the semifinals.

Andre Carrillo equalized for Hilal with a goal in the 44th minute. Salem Al-Dawsari  and Italian import Sebastian Giovinco then put Hilal on the way to victory with goals in minutes 48 and 78.

Earlier in Japan, captain fantastic Shinzo Koroki's powerful first-half header via crossbar and goalkeeper proved enough to squeeze Urawa Red Diamonds into the semifinals  at the expense of Shanghai SIPG on the away goals rule Tuesday.

Wang Shenchao equalized for the visitors with a cool volley on the hour, but the Japanese side comfortably held on for a 1-1 draw and a semifinal place courtesy of the goals scored by Tomoaki Makino and Koroki three weeks ago when the first leg was drawn 2-2 in Shanghai.

The prolific Koroki was, however, officially denied his seventh strike of the campaign on a technicality.

Gloveman Yan Junling was credited with an own goal after palming Koroki's 39th-minute header from Takahiro Sekine's cross onto the woodwork and watching helplessly as it cannoned back into his outstretched arm and over the line.

That was harsh on Yan, who had kept his toothless side — packed with expensive imports — in the tie with a string of saves as Urawa pressed for the cushion of a second goal on a sultry night in Saitama.

It was a poor performance by Vitor Pereira's SIPG side, who were devoid of penetration up front without suspended 55 million euro Brazilian striker Hulk, who had scored both first leg goals from the penalty spot as they came from 2-0 down.

Instead they started with Marko Arnautovic at centre forward, the big Austrian having been signed from English Premier League West Ham last month for 25 million euros.

But with playmaker Oscar — who cost 60 million euros from Chelsea — having an off night, chances remained few and far between.

SIPG had little fluency in the attacking third, a familiar trait that has seen them exit with a curious unbeaten streak of seven draws and one win in their last eight matches in this year's Champions League.

Arnautovic's best efforts were a wasteful header over from six yards out, which would not have counted anyway as the referee had blown for a push, and a tame shot easily deflected for a corner eight minutes from time.

After Shenchao's equalizer SIPG still needed another goal but it was Urawa who seconds later came closest, Daiki Hashioka thumping a shot against the crossbar and Tsuyoshi Otsuki's side continued to carry the more serious threat on the counter attack.

Urawa, the 2007 and 2017 AFC Champions League winners, progress to their fourth semi-final appearance where they will face either defending champions Kashima Antlers or Guangzhou Evergrande, who play Wednesday. Their first leg in China ended 0-0.