It was another spectacular weekend for Jeddah city, the Bride of the Red Sea. As the Saudi Vision 2030 transformation plan aspires to grow household and tourist spending on entertainment and tourism through the creation of world-class attractions that are of the highest international standards, Jeddah was the destination for Formula One grand prix lovers. Thousands of spectators came from all over the world, putting Jeddah on the global motorsports map for the third time.
My love for F1 races goes back to when I was working in London almost 30 years ago. Living in the UK allows you to follow the sport through extensive media coverage, especially since Britain has produced many champions over the years. Also, being in the UK, it was easy back then to attend the races at Silverstone, Monaco and other European venues.
At Jeddah this year, our host was Saudia airline at its hospitality lounge in the Paddock Club arena. The airline’s association with F1 racing goes back to the late 1970s, when it used to sponsor the Williams team. This investment proved a landmark in the team’s history, with the “Fly Saudia” branded team winning its first world championships in 1980. Saudi Aramco has also been a global F1 partner and it is in talks to develop and accelerate plans toward a power unit fueled by advanced sustainable fuels.
Similar to football, F1 is not only a mass spectator sport but also a very profitable business.
Similar to football, F1 is not only a mass spectator sport but also a very profitable business. Hosting a Formula One race boosts the economy of both the host city and country by stimulating consumer spending and creating new opportunities in the secondary and tertiary sectors. Hotels in Jeddah were fully booked for the weekend, while local food and cafe brand owners were overwhelmed by long queues throughout the three days. As a result of the 2022 season’s races, reports show that the Formula One Group achieved a revenue of $2.5 billion, which included race promotion fees (which made up 28.6 percent of the total), media rights (36.4 percent) and sponsorship (16.9 percent).
In my opinion, the F1 grand prix races in Jeddah have been game changers for the sports and tourism sectors, especially for the young generation. On the business front, I have met long-time friends from the US, UK, Germany and Brazil, who have landed in Jeddah, flying their private jets to attend the race and hold side meetings with their Saudi contacts. Jeddah is not only the Bride of the Red Sea but also the fastest street circuit on the F1 calendar, attracting yacht owners watching the race from its spectacular marina.
• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.