Dakar Rally to help Saudi tourism push

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 12:00 |
Peugeot’s Harry Hunt and co-driver Wouter Rosegarr during the Dakar Rally between Lima and Pisco, Peru early this year. Photo/AFP

Saudi Arabia, Tuesday

Saudi Arabia’s sports chief said Monday the controversial 2020 Dakar Rally, to be hosted by the country for the first time, will help showcase the austere kingdom’s tourism potential.

Organisers of the 12-day marathon through the Arabian desert, which starts on January 5, have admitted they have qualms about bringing one of motor racing’s most gruelling adventure rallies to the Gulf kingdom, which has been under fire over human rights abuses.

But Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, said the race would help spotlight attractions as the ultra-conservative kingdom opens up to international tourists amid a push to boost non-oil revenue.

“With the launch of the Dakar Rally here in the kingdom, the world will see the picturesque nature of our country and its wonderful desert,” Prince Abdulaziz told reporters in Qiddiya, close to the capital Riyadh.

“The world will come closer than ever to the people of the hospitable kingdom (that is) looking forward to welcoming the world.” -AFP

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