Travel, Tourism & Hospitality

More action; bigger acts promised at Saudi E-Prix

Saudi Arabia’ biggest celebration of racing action, global music acts, culture and heritage returns this year bigger and better with Formula E back at historic Ad Diriyah.
 
The kingdom's reputation as a sports and entertainment destination continues to grow with this year’s Formula E season kicking off with double header in the kingdom, backed by a huge festival of track action, music, culture and heritage.
 
There were incredible scenes at last year’s sell-out Ad Diriyah E-Prix, with music icons such as David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, One Republic and the Black-Eyed Peas, performing as part of the racing championship’s debut in the Middle East. 
 
Now, Formula E’s return for the 2019 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix promises to eclipse the inaugural year with two races, instead of one, being staged at the stunning Unesco world heritage site of Ad Diriyah, and with crowds of up to 100,000 expected for the November 22 and 23 event, a marked increase on 2018’s 60,000. 
 
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will return to Saudi Arabia with more action, with Porsche and Mercedes competing for the first time, boosting the number of cars on the track. Plus, Ad Diriyah will be ready to welcome even more international tourists with the surrounding At-Turaif district undergoing an ambitious development programme this year, with thousands more trees planted, plus trails, picnic areas and walking paths created.
 
Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, chairman of the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA), said: “Formula E’s arrival in Saudi Arabia was a watershed moment for the kingdom, one that thousands witnessed together. 
 
“The 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix excited our nation’s people, our families, through its racing, its exhilarating action, its heroes and its entertainment. Achieved thanks to the ambitions of Vision 2030, it was the biggest festival of sport, music and culture the Kingdom has ever seen. 
 
“This year we look forward to igniting an even bigger season of motor racing for Formula E, we’re ready to welcome even more international visitors, and create another unforgettable moment for our people.”
 
In a recent interview with the UAE’s The National newspaper, superstar DJ and producer David Guetta hailed the 2018 event in Saudi Arabia, which included the first unsegregated concerts open to all and with no requirement for women attending to where abayas. 
 
He told the newspaper: “I'm really proud that I've done this. There is obviously a very big effort in Saudi to open to music and to artists. And as an artist, I play for the people and the people were obviously so happy. It was incredible and to see men and women dancing and letting go of everything. I felt like I was part of history, you know, and it was a great honour for me to be part of this.”
 
Last year saw travellers from 80 different countries flock to the event, taking advantage of the first-ever 30-day tourism visas issued under the new online Sharek immigration system. For 2019 this process has been enhanced to make visiting the kingdom even easier.
 
The 2019 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix will be the second year of a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA) and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). The event will be staged again by promoter CBX, which successfully created the racetrack and venue in the heart of the heritage site.
 
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Faisal Al Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “In 2018 the track proved itself as a world-class venue for thrilling motorsport, hailed by racers as one of the most exiting they have faced. 
 
“This year sees even more teams enter the Formula E championship, with Porsche and Mercedes entering the fray. Last year Ad Diriyah was the launchpad for the new Gen 2 race cars and the exciting Attack Zone innovation. This year will be the first-time drivers will have an additional 10kW of power available when using that Attack Mode, rising from 225kW to 235kW.
 
“Add to that, a double header – two races instead of one - with a total of 24 cars competing. This will fire up Saudi Arabia’s passion for motorsports and we are ready to welcome Formula E back.”
 
Carlo Boutagy, CEO CBX, promoter of E-Prix in Saudi Arabia, concluded: “The 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-prix marked a number of firsts for the kingdom including the first electric street car race, the first time female drivers took part in motorsport, and the first time international visitors were granted tourist visas to be part of the action. The magnitude of what was achieved to bring the first race to Saudi Arabia was nothing short of astonishing and the 2019 race will build on that success to deliver an action-packed weekend filled with close racing and world-class entertainment for the fans. We are truly delighted and honored to kick start the 2019-2020 ABB FIA Formula E Championship”.
 
The 2019 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix will be the second year of a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA) and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). - TradeArabia News Service