Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

See Dakar drivers racing through the Saudi desert

Despite tragedy this week, the Dakar Rally presses on in first Saudi rally

Despite the death of motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves earlier this week, the Dakar Rally is pushing on in its first Saudi rally.

The event is just the latest in a string of high-octane sports to come to the kingdom under reforms being implemented since Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed in 2017.

Once public events were rare, but now a packed schedule of concerts, boxing matches, pop-up food fairs, art exhibitions and events are drawing crowds from across the kingdom as Saudi Arabia looks to attract tourism and offer more entertainment to its people.

The rally started out near the port city of Jeddah, heading to Neom – the soon to be built mega-city of the future the kingdom is planning as part of its push for a post-oil future – passed the historical Al Ula and rested in Riyadh.

There are just three stages left in the completion that will draw to a close later this month.

As more sports and entertainment events started coming to the kingdom two years ago, visitors could get a visa, once hard to obtain for non-Arabs, with their tickets. But late last year, Saudi Arabia opened up an easy online portal for visitors to get visas and began promoting the kingdom as a tourist destination as it seeks more non-religious visitors who come to undertake the Hajj or Umrah.


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