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Dakar Rally goes back to its roots in Saudi Arabia

Video Credit: Reuters - Sports - Duration: 01:33s - Published < > Embed
Dakar Rally goes back to its roots in Saudi Arabia

Dakar Rally goes back to its roots in Saudi Arabia

The Dakar Rally will be hitting the sand dunes when it goes to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

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Dakar Rally goes back to its roots in Saudi Arabia

SHOWS: PARIS, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 20, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) DAKAR RALLY DRIVER, STEPHANE PETERHANSEL, SAYING: "Our hair on our arms stands up because there are some amazing landscapes, with a lot of variety, with canyons and sea-side, between the sand dunes also.

And for me, the country seems to suit having a great Dakar very well.

It reminds me of countries like we used to have in Africa, South Algeria, Mauritania.

And I am sure that with what we have seen, it's going to be a great rally." 2.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) ITALIAN DRIVER ON C.A.T RACING, CAMELIA LIPAROTI, SAYING: "Our first challenge is sports.

And because we like adventures, we enjoy Dakar.

It is part of both of our lives.

Obviously, there is this concern about the female aspect as well, and I think that it could be an inspiration to Saudi women.

We encourage women to come out and discuss, to talk and encourage others to one day, maybe, do the same things we do in the future." 3.

OFFICIAL DAKAR RALLY PRESENTATION SHOWING DIFFERENT STAGES STORY: The Dakar Rally is going back to its roots in 2020 when the latest instalment will be held in Saudi Arabia featuring its huge desert and its countless sand dunes.

With his thirteen victories, the Dakar Rally record holder Stephane Peterhansel is excited to participate to the race the Saudi course now laid out for the 2020 Dakar Rally.

"Our hair on our arms stand up because there are some amazing landscapes, with a lot of variety, with canyons and sea-side, between the sand dunes also.

And for me, the country seems to suit having a great Dakar very well.

It reminds me of countries like we used to have in Africa, South Algeria, Mauritania," he said during the official presentation on Wednesday (November 20) in the Arabe Institute.

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah, the President of SAAMF (Saudi Arabian Automobile 1 Motorcycle Federation) told attendees the Kingdom is inviting the world to Saudi Arabia by hosting a sporting event like the Dakar Rally.

"With the introduction of the new tourist visa, we are now open to the world and the message we send out to sports fans around the globe and this is the foundation of our future." Saudi Arabia threw open its doors to tourists when it launched a new visa programme for 49 countries and appealing to foreign companies to invest in a sector it hopes will contribute 10% of gross domestic product by 2030.

Visas will be available online for about $80 dollars (£65 pounds), with no restrictions for unaccompanied women as in the past.

Access to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina is restricted.

Until now, foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia have been largely restricted to resident workers and their dependants, business travellers, and Muslim pilgrims who receive special visas to visit holy sites.

Saudi Arabia has allowed women to drive since June 2018 and Castera said he would love to see a Saudi woman participating in the Rally over the course of its five year contract in the country.

Women are among the 351 drivers who will participate in the 2020 rally.

The 2020 edition will take place entirely within the borders of the kingdom starting on January 5 and will end 12 stages and 7,800 kilometres later, in Al-Qiddiya, near Riyadh, on January 17.

The route will pass through the mountains to the north and the Rub' al-Khali -- or "Empty Quarter" -- desert region in the south of the country where dunes can be more than 250 metres high.

Saudi Arabia will become the 30th country visited by the Dakar Rally.

The rally started in 1977 as a race from Paris across the Sahara desert to the Senegalese capital in West Africa and has long been regarded as the world's toughest motor sport challenge.

It had been staged in South America since 2009, and entirely in Peru last year, after leaving Africa for security reasons.




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