A new chapter in the history of the Dakar Rally will be written as the world's biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia
A new chapter in the history of the Dakar Rally will be written as the world’s biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia.
The switch has been announced after 30 years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America.
The Dakar Rally is an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, races since 2009 have been held in South America.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “The vision and guidance of our leaders have made our dreams and ambitions limitless and have set the sports scene in the Kingdom on a remarkable success route.
"Today we are thrilled to announce that Rally Dakar, an event with a huge global appeal is coming to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for the first time.
"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."
He added: "In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience fordrivers 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.”
Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, added: “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.”
David Castera, director of the Dakar, said: “Looking back at my first memories of the Dakar and my first experiences as a competitor, I’ve always considered that this rally like no other carried a concept of discovery, a voyage into the unknown. By going to Saudi Arabia, it is of course that aspect that fascinates me. I’m convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all the riders, drivers and copilots. As the director of the event, it’s a massive chalenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities.
"I’m already inspired and delighted to have to design a course in such a monumental geography, made for the most audacious itineraries. We are spoilt for choice. Sports, navigation, a will to surpass oneself: all these aspects will naturally be glorified on this territory made for rally-raids.”