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Saudi Arabia strikes long-term deal for Formula E’s maiden Middle East event

Saudi Arabia has landed its latest major sporting event under the Vision 2030 plan by agreeing a 10-year deal with Formula E to stage the electric street racing series’ first race in the Middle East.

The agreement announced will see the capital city Riyadh host the opening round of season five in December. Formula E has signed the contract with the General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabian Motor Federation as part of Vision 2030, which is seeking to diversify Saudi Arabia’s interests away from the oil sector. 

Alongside hosting the first fully-electric race in the region, the news signals the start of a new era of the Formula E Championship with the competitive debut of the next generation Gen2 cars (pictured) in Riyadh.

Pending confirmation of the calendar by the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) World Motor Sport Council, the E-Prix will see the Formula E cars navigate the streets of the Ad Diriyah district – with experienced motorsport promoter Carlo Boutagy tasked to deliver and promote the race through his company CBX. Further details on the location and circuit layout will be revealed in due course.

Alejandro Agag, founder and chief executive of Formula E, said: “Many other sports are already increasing their presence in Saudi Arabia and we’re proud that they’ve chosen Formula E over other categories in racing. Most countries are now looking to Formula E, especially Saudi Arabia which is concentrating on the development of new technologies, renewable energies and electric vehicles.”

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, added: “Saudi Arabia is looking to the future and Formula E is the motorsport of the future, that’s why this is such an exciting opportunity. It aligns perfectly with the country’s 2030 vision and offers the prospect of world-class racing on the streets of the capital for the first time in our history. 

“The length of the partnership will give Saudi Arabia and Formula E the platform to create a lasting legacy for both the sport globally and the Kingdom over the course of a decade. This is the latest in a series of game-changing sports events that the people of Saudi Arabia will now be able to enjoy as families, with benefits that go far beyond the sport to deliver a positive impact across our society.”

The Formula E deal comes after Riyadh staged motorsport’s Race of Champions on February 2-3.