His Excellency Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Motor Federation, accompanied by His Excellency Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain International Circuit, attended the opening ceremony of the Saudi Dakar Rally 2020, which is hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time in the history of the region, from 5 - 17 January 2020. The opening ceremony took place opening ceremony in the Dakar village on the Jeddah Corniche.
HE emphasised that hosting the Dakar International Rally 2020 in Saudi Arabia is a new confirmation of the leading position the region holds in hosting and organizing global races, overseen by qualified national cadres. HE stressed that ‘this is a proud moment for all of us, especially in the Kingdom of Bahrain, as we see any success achieved by Saudi Arabia as a success for Bahrain’.
HE praised the steps taken by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, chaired by HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, in developing motor sport, which has had a positive regional impact and showcases the huge potential that exists in the region.
HE expressed his thanks and appreciation to HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal, Chairman of the General Sports Authority and HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan AlAbdullah Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, for their gracious hospitality. In this regard, HE wished them continued success in achieving the desired goals for sports in general and motorsports in particular.
The 2020 Dakar Rally saw the participation of the X-raid team racing for Bahrain in their first self-developed and constructed Mini John Cooper Works and Mini John Cooper Works Buggy. The Bahrain team includes champion drivers Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz and co-drivers Lucas Cruz and Paulo Fiúza.
HE Shaikh Abdulla met with the x-raid team, which is sponsored by the Kingdom of Bahrain and is representing it. HE welcomed their participation and noted the Kingdom’s commitment to advancing its wide-ranging motorsport achievements.
The rally was flagged off in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and will conclude in the capital, Riyadh, covering 7,500 kilometres. The route will pass through some of the vital and most picturesque destinations in Saudi Arabia, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al Ula in the north-west; Tabouk region in the north-west, which is home to the futuristic Neom-city project; the ancient Ha’il region; and Wadi Al Dawasir in Najd province, which is being developed in the middle of the desert as a new urban centre.
The 2020 edition of the rally also marks a milestone for the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia becoming the first country in the region to play host to the challenge, gaining the right to hold it for the next five years. The 13-day off-road race that was founded on a love of desert driving will see more than 550 drivers from 62 nations contest in 12 stages while exploring the vast and formidable desert terrains of the largest country in the region.