RIYADH: Hosts and guests of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and Saudi Arabia came together at the Diriyah E-Prix gala dinner on Thursday to raise funds for the Charitable Society of Autism Families.
The fund-raising event, organized by official promoter CBX, raised $478,000 for a cause that Formula E has supported since 2019.
The event, held at the Cultural Palace, kicked off Formula E’s season eight opener, with round one of the double-header getting underway in Diriyah.
“I can’t express my thanks enough to those that supported the gala dinner and SAF,” Prince Saud bin Abdul Aziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF chairman, said.
“The Formula E family has gone above and beyond, and the funds will allow us to support all those involved in autism, from professionals who deliver care to the children and families navigating their way through the disorder. Our vision is to develop an integrated and well-developed platform for all autistic individuals in the Kingdom.”
Eight auction lots up for grabs included a Chelsea shirt signed by special guest Didier Drogba, who personally handed the garment over to the highest bidder who paid $92,500.
Other prizes included a Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon, Extreme E Explorers Lounge passes for its Uruguay X Prix, a Roland Iten X Rebellion Belt Buckle, a Mouawad necklace, a VIP experience in AlUla, two paintings by Fahad Al-Naymah, plus a Salayel Arabian stud horse.
Carlo Boutagy, CBX founder, said: “I’m glad we raised significant funds for such a worthy cause. My thanks to all those who attended, donated auction items, and bid for incredible pieces and experiences.”
He added: “I would also like to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Sport, the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, and Formula E for bringing this race to the Kingdom for a fourth consecutive year, and for also supporting our gala dinner. The money raised will make the world of difference to many families in Saudi Arabia.”
The bidding battle heated up with the highest price being offered for the Salayel Arabian stud horse, all contributing to $478,000 being raised, which will support the 5,000 families with autism spectrum disorder children across the Kingdom.
Alejandro Agag, founder and chairman of Formula E, added: “It is a pleasure to be in the Kingdom for the opening rounds of season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with the support of the host city and CBX. The Charitable Society of Autism Families is a worthy cause and last night we were able to support their important work. At Formula E we race to create better futures. We are committed to building shared values among our communities and driving change together.”
Meanwhile, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Co., said: “The night truly reflected our mission to increase opportunities to expand the role of motorsport in terms of inclusion to reach all segments of the population in Saudi Arabia. We are committed through the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision and the support of our leaders to improve the lives of all our citizens and build a better future for our nation’s youth.”
SAF has a longstanding relationship with CBX and the Diriyah E-Prix having received a donation of $245,000 when the partnership with Formula E was conceived. The aid was channelled into projects to train families, enrol autistic children in sports programs and support the rehabilitation of individuals with autism.
Since its inception in 2009, the charity has invested more than $16.7 million in projects to fulfil its mission to improve autism care and research in Saudi Arabia by supporting and coordinating stakeholders through a research-based approach and emphasis on collaboration.