Complex Made Simple

Almost official: Dakar Rally on the Saudi desert rumour alley

The official suite of Dakar Rally did not mention that Saudi is the likely site of the 2020 race. These are still rumours but they are worth mentioning because there are so many of them.

Could the bike, quad, car, SxS and truck rally make a move to Saudi? Why not? It makes sense.

Rumour alley

The Dakar Rally has been held in South America for a decade now and had Peru for the 2019 running at a bid of $3 million to organizers.

Reports from Cycle World say the organizing body is thinking to relocate.

“There were a number of rumours circulating through the competitors, telephone style, that the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) would be moving the Dakar rally out of South America, perhaps as early as 2020,” the rumours said.

According to Cycle World’s anonymous sources, the plan is to head to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia reportedly offered $15 million into the coffers of the ASO to win the bid by a landslide.  

One report said the 2020 running of the Dakar event will take place entirely within the confines of Saudi Arabia but will expand from 2021 to 2024 to extend the hosting roster to Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE.

Others said the entirety of the event will be held in Saudi alone until a new deal is struck in 2025.

Saudi entertainment agenda 

A 2018 report from Flanders Investment and Trade said more than 4.5 million Saudis travel abroad annually spending about $25bn on entertainment in nearby Dubai or Bahrain, or outside the GCC.

Saudi plans to invest billions in entertainment projects to keep Saudi nationals home, while at the same time creating employment for its citizens.

The kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said that its combined entertainment projects – which will eventually be able to cater to more than 50 million visitors each year – will provide 22,000 direct jobs and contribute $2.13bn to Saudi GDP by 2030.

Recently, $23.2bn in lifestyle projects were announced in the capital Riyadh to start in H2 2019. The four projects include the King Salman Park, Green Riyadh, Riyadh Art and Sports Boulevard. These are expected to generate 70,000 jobs for Saudis and attract local and foreign investors, the Saudi Press Agency said. Construction for the four projects will start in the second half of this year.

SEVEN, the Saudi Entertainment Ventures company established by the in December 2017 announced government investment plans totalling $64bn to develop its entertainment industry over the next decade.