Ending a decade-long venture in South America, The Dakar rally is moving to Saudi Arabia. Amaury Sports Organization confirmed on Monday that, from 2020 the Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia. Details of the deal are yet to be revealed but it is established that the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia will be responsible for the annual rally raid for next five years.
Traditionally, competitors in Dakar Rally traversed from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. Due to the security threat in 2008 which led to the cancellation of the event, the rally moved from Africa to South America. Due to the complicated process for choosing host nations, for the last Dakar Peru was the single destination after the withdrawal of Chillie and Bolivia.
In order to move from an oil-based economy, Saudi Arabia is introducing other sector in their country. From the initial part of this year, the middle-eastern country held an array of internationally prestigious sports tournaments such as WWE Crown Jewel, a Formula-E Race in Riyadh, Italian Super cup between Juventus and AC Milan. Saudi authority expressed their enthusiasm saying, “Our country is extremely passionate about sports and our strategic goal is to feed the appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030, of which sports is a basic pillar.” Vision 2030 is the brainchild of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman who is trying to create economic opportunities in the country and mov away from unstable petro-dollar.
From Dakar Rally, director David Caster said in his statement, “We are spoiled for choices. The sports, navigation and a will to surpass oneself: all those aspect will be naturally glorified on this territory made for rally-raids.” He is hopeful that the competitors will be thrilled to explore the terrains of Middle East. Rally organization, ASO is now at ease about the relocation after the conundrum regarding selection of host countries last year.