Saudi Arabia to host Rally Dakar for the next 10 years

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A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

At a special event held on Thursday in Qiddiya, the location that marks the finish line at the end of the 9,000-kilometer endurance race on the outskirts of Riyadh, officials, VIPs, leading international pilots and media gathered as organizers revealed the event dates and route as part of a cultural celebration filled with colour, music and dance.    

After 30 years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America, the stunning and unchartered terrain of Saudi Arabia awaits participants of Dakar Rally 2020, which is scheduled to start in the port city of Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia on January 5 and eventually finish in Qiddiya southwest of the Saudi capital Riyadh on January 17  after having swept across the Kingdom through 10 challenging stages.

Organized by the Saudi General Sports Authority, the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation and Amaury Sport Organisation, Dakar Rally 2020, the first of a ten-year agreement, will take competitors on a breathtaking tour of unique and untouched natural scenery. The gruelling yet remarkable route is set to pass through a diverse range of colours and surfaces, racing between, along and through canyons, dunes, mountains, deserts and wadis, for a rally like never before.

The addition of the Dakar Rally to the growing high-caliber international sports calendar of Saudi Arabia, sees the world’s most iconic motorsport adventure join Formula E, WWE, European Tour Golf and the Italian Supercup, as events that have all recently taken place in the Kingdom.  

With Saudi Arabia continuing to open up its borders to participants and fans of live sport, music and culture, organizers hope to welcome participants from as many as 60 countries, to complete in one of 4 different categories: Cars, Trucks, Bikes, and UTV and SxS.

On January 5 Dakar Rally 2020 will depart from Jeddah, known as the Bride of the Red Sea, heading north along the coast to Neom, one of the world’s most ambitious tourism and hospitality projects which is currently under development.

From Neom, participants will race eastwards and inland towards Ha'il, the traditional heartland of authentic Arab hospitality and generosity and birthplace of ancient Arabia’s famous poet Hatem Al-Tai. From Ha’il, the race continues south towards the capital and the Kingdom’s largest city, Riyadh.

From Riyadh the race moves onwards towards the Eastern Province, distinguished by its beautiful sandy beaches that emerge from the banks of the Gulf, and home to a big portion of the renowned Empty Quarter, the world’s largest contiguous desert. The endless pristine expanse filled with dramatic gold-coloured sand dunes not only offers unimaginable beauty but also one of the toughest tests for competitors and could prove pivotal to the final results. 

For those who successfully maneuver through the daunting desert landscape the closing stage returns participants to the outskirts of Riyadh to the finishing line at Qiddiya, a future entertainment, sports and cultural destination that sits beneath the Tuwaiq Mountain cliffs.