Dakar Rally race village gets fans in Jeddah revved up for start of the 2020 event

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Fans have been making the most of the chance to learn more about Dakar Rally, and the vehicles and drivers who are taking part. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Fans have been making the most of the chance to learn more about Dakar Rally, and the vehicles and drivers who are taking part. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Fans have been making the most of the chance to learn more about Dakar Rally, and the vehicles and drivers who are taking part. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Fans have been making the most of the chance to learn more about Dakar Rally, and the vehicles and drivers who are taking part. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 04 January 2020

Dakar Rally race village gets fans in Jeddah revved up for start of the 2020 event

  • The Dakar Village in Jeddah is open until Jan. 4 from 4 p.m. to midnight
  • The rally begins on Jan. 5 in Jeddah, and will end in Riyadh on Jan. 17

JEDDAH: As the excitement builds ahead the start of the 42nd Dakar Rally, fans have been making the most of the chance to learn more about the event and the vehicles and drivers who are taking part.
The 2020 rally marks the first time it has been staged in the Middle East. In a test of endurance as well as speed, 550 competitors from 62 countries — driving cars, motorbikes, quad bikes and trucks — will set off from Jeddah on Sunday to cover 7,500 kilometers during 12 days of racing across the Saudi desert
Before then, crowds of fans have descended on Jeddah Corniche, where the Dakar race village has been set up to provide a wide range of entertaining and educational attractions and activities to get everyone up to speed on this unique motorsport challenge.
The Dakar Museum features some of the vehicles that will be taking part, along with other displays and information about the history of the world-famous event. Nearby, there are rows of parked vehicles undergoing final checks and inspections to make sure that they are fit to race.


There is also a special children’s section, where youngsters can ride on fancy miniature vans or race remote-controlled cars in the sand. For the grown-ups, there is a stage where local DJs and musicians perform throughout the evening. For more active fans there are some fun sporting activities, including soccer challenges. And, of course, there are enough food and beverage options to help restore flagging energy levels.
The soccer competitions were hosted by former world champion freestyle footballer Sean Garnier. “It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia and I’m really surprised by the way people enjoy the show and interact,” he said.
Entrepreneur Abdul Aziz and Ibtihal, a student, who visited the village together, said they were surprised by the scale of the event and how well organized it is.
“Some of these cars I’ve never seen in my life,” said Ibtihal. “It’s a perfectly orchestrated event.”
Al-Hazmi, a long-time fan of the Dakar Rally, said: “The organization is top notch but I wish they’d let people sit in the cars and enjoy rides as part of the experience in the future.” He added that he will be cheering for Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi.
Eduardo Ballinan and his wife Wilma, who moved to the Kingdom from the Philippines 15 years ago, said they cannot believe an event such as the Dakar Rally is taking place in Saudi Arabia.
“(Vehicles) like the KTM and one of the BMW models have never been seen here in Saudi Arabia. It’s huge,” said Ballinan, who runs a motorbike club with some friends.
The Dakar Village in Jeddah is open until Jan. 4 from 4 p.m. to midnight. The rally begins on Jan. 5 in Jeddah, and will end in Riyadh on Jan. 17. In the past year, Saudi Arabia has increasingly opened its doors to international tourism and world-class sports and entertainment events, as part of efforts to diversify the nation’s economy.


Fati delights, Jovic disappoints, optimism for Atletico

Updated 30 September 2020

Fati delights, Jovic disappoints, optimism for Atletico

  • Atletico scored 19 fewer goals than champions Real Madrid last season and 35 fewer than Barcelona

MADRID: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will all be hoping to build on their first wins of the season as La Liga heads into its fourth round of games this week.

Here are the five talking points ahead of the midweek fixtures.

For the first time in a long time, Barcelona can enjoy some calm after a 4-0 win over Villarreal in their first match of the season on Sunday.

Lionel Messi scored on his first competitive appearance since attempting to leave in the summer but most exciting was the performance of the 17-year-old Ansu Fati, who scored twice and won a penalty.

Ronald Koeman must decide how to make the most of the teenager, whose maturity on the pitch belies his age and whose body might not be ready to start every week.

But Fati's pace, movement and decision-making are all so impressive it will be difficult to leave him out, as Barca look to build on that win at Celta Vigo on Thursday.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane switched to a 4-4-2 formation during his team's 3-2 win at Real Betis on Saturday as Luka Jovic was deployed up front alongside Karim Benzema.

But the Serbian striker failed to take his chance, instead enduring another underwhelming night before going off with 18 minutes to go.

It remains to be seen whether Zidane persists with Jovic at home to Real Valladolid on Wednesday, or at all, given Madrid could yet decide to let their €60 million (today $70 million) signing leave before the end of the transfer window.

When Eden Hazard regains fitness, that spot next to Benzema will belong to the Belgian so Jovic's window of opportunity may be small. Time would appear to be running out.

Atletico scored 19 fewer goals than champions Real Madrid last season and 35 fewer than Barcelona.

So hitting six against Granada on Sunday offered some early encouragement that this season's Atletico, boosted by the arrival of Luis Suarez in attack, can put those scoring problems behind them.

Suarez stole the show after scoring twice on his debut but Joao Felix was arguably the biggest plus for Diego Simeone, who will hope the 20-year-old's excellent display is the start of a more consistent campaign.

Atletico go up against newly promoted Huesca on Wednesday, the kind of game they slipped up in too often last season.

Even defeat by Real Madrid could not knock Real Betis off the top of the table, as Manuel Pellegrini's team enjoy the benefits of a strong start and more games played than the traditional powerhouses three weeks into the season.

But there is cause for optimism longer-term as Betis began with wins against Alaves and Real Valladolid, before matching Madrid for prolonged spells until their opponents pulled away in the second half.

With the likes of Nabil Fekir, Sergio Canales and Joaquin, this Betis squad has not lacked for attacking talent but solidity at the back has too often been an afterthought.

Villarreal face Alaves on Wednesday, with pressure already on both coaches. Villarreal have four points from their opening three games but a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Barcelona on Sunday, as well as a draw at home to newly-promoted Huesca means Unai Emery could do with a victory.

Alaves, meanwhile, are second bottom after managing just a point from their first three games, with Pablo Machin seeking a first win at la Ceramica.

Valencia have also made a stuttering start, a draw at home to Huesca on Saturday coming on the back of a surprise loss away at Celta Vigo.

New coach Javi Gracia has already expressed disappointment with the club's summer transfer dealings, meaning credit with the board may be lacking if results do not improve.