Formula E announces 10-year deal to race in Saudi Arabia
The new event in Riyadh has been installed as the season-opener for the all-electric street racing series.
The all-electric Formula E motor racing series has announced a 10-year deal with Saudi Arabia to host a race in Riyadh from the 2018/19 campaign, organizers said on Thursday. The race in Riyadh’s Ad Diriyah district – on the outskirts of the capital – will be the FE’s first in the Middle East. An exact date for the inaugural race is yet to be confirmed.
FE’s founder and CEO Alejandro Agag said that Saudi Arabia will be an ideal venue for the competition.
"Bringing racing to Riyadh for the first round of the new season is the perfect setting for the next phase of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship", Agag said. "An exciting and vibrant country that is focusing on its future, Saudi Arabia will be the ideal venue to mark the competitive debut of the next generation Formula E cars. Many other sports are already increasing their presence in Saudi Arabia and we're proud that they've chosen Formula E over other categories in racing."
Saudi Arabia’s future vision
The conservative Islamic monarchy is on a quest to open up aiming to diversify its economy and reduce the country’s dependence on oil.
"Saudi Arabia is looking to the future and Formula E is the motorsport of the future. That's why this is such an exciting opportunity," explained his Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia general sports authority. "It aligns perfectly with the country's 2030 vision and offers the prospect of world-class racing on the streets of the capital for the first time in our history. For all fans, men, women, young and old, the dream of a hosting a 'home race' will now come true."
Last year, Saudi Arabian authorities announced that, from June 2018, women would be allowed to drive cars, ending the world’s only ban on female driving. In January, women football fans were allowed to attend a men’s match for the first time.