Interviewer : Ahmed Al-Zayla’i and Amal El Gendy
Translated by : Taha Sakr
In 2020, the Dakar Rally, which were held on the land of the Qiddiya region in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and included contestants from all over the world, concluded in a message confirming the way forward towards achieving the Kingdom’s 2030 vision.
During the rally events today, Leaders Magazine ran interview with one of the Saudi pioneers of international motor racing, and the sponsor of one of the most important sports in the world, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Al-Faisal Al Saud; Chairman of the Saudi Federation of Cars and Motorcycles :
Below are the full questions of the interview:-
When did your interest in motor racing competitions start?
My passion of the motor racing sport started since childhood, in general cars, bicycles and races attract young people with speed, excitement, and pleasure.
I started my motorsport practice at a little late age because motor sport entered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia late, as it was not in my childhood, where it started (Autocross) and small racing organizations during the years 2001-2002, organized by the Saudi hero Captain Abdullah Bakhshab.
After that I sought to develop my talent and my level, and participated in regional championships professionally, so I participated in the first championship in the Middle East Rally in 2004, to be my first official participation in the field of regional races.
I continued to participate in rallies, until 2007, when I participated in the Hail Rally, and this period witnessed competitions in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dubai, in addition to my participation in (Porsche Challenge) races in the Middle East.
Moreover, I participated with my brother, the head of the Saudi General Sports Authority Abdulaziz Saud Al-Faisal, we used to participate in Europe, France and Germany through Al-Faisal Cars team, and this is my start, to conclude it by participating in the 2011 competitions.
Rally sports attract participants and audiences globally, so how do you see this in the Kingdom?
Rally sport is very famous, and very strong world championships, it is the challenge, the difficulty, excitement and the challenge of distances.
Many people like to take up the challenge and this experience – and we – praise be to God – are distinguished by our diverse geographical topography, which provided the competitors with consistent and fit terrain.
What about the preparations of the Rally Dakar?
During the negotiation and preparation period for the rally organization, some people were afraid of organizing the Dakar Rally in the Kingdom, but as soon as they visited the kingdom, witnessed its terrain, they were amazed by it, and they expressed their happiness in setting up the rally in the Kingdom, which made it very easy for us.
What is the number of participants in the Dakar Rally? How did the Kingdom benefit from it?
The number of contestants reached 5050 participants, we greatly benefited as the reputation of the kingdom witnessed improvement as the participants reflected what they have experienced when they came back to home as well as the media delegations and the maintenance teams that accompanied them.
The competition demonstrated the beauty and development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through it the participants took an idea of our generosity, goodness, customs, traditions, experience, and our ability to organize, and we were able to change the blurry and mental image, and the idea they had with some of them.
How did the Dakar Rally contribute to the revitalization of tourism in the Kingdom?
The Dakar Rally contributed to supporting the tourism sector in the Kingdom, in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 vision, and with the direction of the state, we achieved two goals, established a major sporting event, and contributed to the revitalization of the tourism and economic sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We observed, during the 12 days, the competition period, the large numbers that entered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the flow of large funds, the world became closely acquainted with its nature, its diverse environmental composition, its diverse cultures.
After this international experience, when will we watch an international Saudi Rally?
Thanks to Allah, we started the desert rally sports races in 2019, and with the constant support of our wise leadership – may God preserve it, and with the success of our experience in organizing the Dakar International Rally Competition, we have gained enough experience to develop and organize for such competitions.
We plan for a local championship during the next year 2021, to be at the same level World Championships.
Have you hired contestants to participate in other rallies in the Kingdom?
Indeed, we contracted with the contestants for a period ranging between 5 and 10 years, where we first felt fear for them at the contract, but now after they come and see our pioneering reality and features of the giant renaissance and development, they agreed to repeat the race.
Races will be in various regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the race distances stand out from 8000: 9000 Km, and it is available in the regions of the Kingdom.
How many people were injured in the Dakar Rally Competition?
The percentage of accidents in races is usually lower for us compared to other global races, the percentage of injuries is estimated at about 50 injuries and one death.
Most of the injured are bicycle owners because they have no protection and no protection cage
What are the prizes for the winners of the Dakar Rally?
Rally races in general and bicycles, not like horse and tennis races, usually get the money from the companies sponsoring the teams, because it is a promotional medium for companies related to sports, and the auto industry, meaning that the prizes article is a form of support for these companies.