In the weeks following the 2019 edition of the Dakar rally in Peru, rumors that it was the end of the event’s 10-year run in South America surfaced. The earliest rumor was sending the rally back to its home turf in Africa, heading south of the continent this time. A few days later, it was pointed out that an Instagram post suggested Saudi Arabia was trying to seduce the Dakar organizers. It has now been confirmed that the 2020 Dakar will be hosted in Saudi Arabia.
South America served the purpose of the rally well for the past decade since political tensions in Mauritania forced the cancellation of the 2008 edition of the race. Recent political and financial contentions greatly limited the event and forced the 2019 edition to be contained within the boundaries of Peru.
Considering the increasingly hostile climate the event had to face in South America, organizers started considering other locations. It was initially believed the event would head back home to Africa with a potential route through South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and Botswana detailed in an FADM Facebook post. Then an Instagram post by one of the racers himself identified Saudi Arabia as another contender to host the desert raid.
With its 1.4 million square miles of desert, the latter prevailed and sources confirm that a five-year agreement between Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) and Saudi Arabia has been signed. After three decades traveling the Sahara and another one exploring South America, the Dakar will now tackle the Arabian Peninsula. The Middle East has been getting some serious exposure in recent years thanks to the increasing number of sporting events hosted in such countries as Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
More details regarding the agreement and next edition of the event will be unveiled on April 25 during a press conference addressing the 2020 rally.
Dakar – Chapter III
April 15 th 2019 – 15:00
After 30 years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America, a new chapter in the history of Dakar will be written as the world’s biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia.
The mega event offers drivers more than just a journey. The rally will be an opportunity for those who dare to test themselves in an unknown landscape and an uncharted terrain, setting the scene for the optimum stage to prove their driving skills, navigational prowess and knack for a challenge.
See you on April, 25th 2019 on this site and on the social networks to find out more about the Dakar 2020!
His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority.
“The vision and guidance of our leaders have made our dreams and ambitions limitless and have set the sports scene in the Kingdom on a remarkable success route. Today we are thrilled to announce that Rally Dakar, an event with a huge global appeal is coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for the first time. Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030, of which sport is a basic pillar.
In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region and around the world.”
HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation
“I have always wanted to participate in Dakar Rally. While I wasn’t fortunate to achieve that ambition, I’m now part of achieving a much bigger dream for my country as Dakar comes to the Middle East region for the first time ever.
The vision and support of HRH Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and the trust that GSA president HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Turki Al Faisal had put in us were key to our efforts to secure the hosting rights for an event of such a global magnitude.”
David Castera, Director of the Dakar.
“Looking back at my first memories of the Dakar and my first experiences as a competitor, I’ve always considered that this rally like no other carried a concept of discovery, a voyage into the unknown. By going to Saudi Arabia, it is of course that aspect that fascinates me. I’m convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all the riders, drivers and copilots. As the director of the event, it’s a massive chalenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities.
I’m already inspired and delighted to have to design a course in such a monumental geography, made for the most audacious itineraries. We are spoilt for choice. Sports, navigation, a will to surpass oneself: all these aspects will naturally be glorified on this territory made for rally-raids.”