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Drone Racing League to land in Saudi Arabia

The 2018 Drone Racing League World Championship will take place in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s General Sports Authority (GSA) announced today (Friday).

Although the host city for the event has not been confirmed yet, the GSA said that the championship will take place in September next year following the agreement with the league.

The seventh and final event of the 2018 DRL season will be broadcast in 87 countries, with rights partners including Disney XD, ESPN, Fox Sports Asia, OSN, ProSiebenSat.1 and Sky. It will be the first professional drone-racing event to be staged in Saudi Arabia.

“With a rapidly growing fan base in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East, we felt it was crucial to expand our presence locally and debut our iconic 2018 race there,” the league’s chief executive and founder, Nicholas Horbaczewski, said.

The hosting deal marks just the latest in a string of announcements by the GSA in the sports industry. As reported on Friday morning by SportBusiness.com, the GSA has also just signed strategic partnerships with LaLiga, which operates the top two divisions of Spanish football, and English Premier League club Manchester United.

The focus on the sports industry is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 roadmap, which was announced last year by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and is designed to diversify the Saudi economy and develop the country’s public sectors.

Following the latest announcement, the GSA’s president, Turki Al-Alsheikh, said: “The partnership with the Drone Racing League demonstrates our commitment to promoting and developing sport in the kingdom. Bringing the world championship to Saudi Arabia will help grow this uniquely innovative sport in the region.”