Saudi Arabia about to write the next chapter in its sporting transformation with the inaugural Extreme E race in AlUla
Saudi Arabia hosts its latest international sports event this weekend, one that aims to raise awareness of the impact of climate change, as well as thrilling sports fans across the world. Extreme E will stage its first ever race at the stunning location of AlUla, as some of motorsport’s best drivers including Jenson Button, Jamie Chadwick, Sébastien Loeb, Molly Taylor, Carlos Sainz and Sara Price race electric-power SUVs across the desert in the inaugural Desert X Prix. Extreme E is the world’s first gender equal motorsport and aims to raise awareness of the impact of climate change and increase understanding of the changes that can be made. AlUla is a fitting location to highlight the impact of desertification before the series continues to the stunning backdrops of Dakar, Senegal, Greenland, Amazon, Brazil and Patagonia, Argentina. Each of the teams’ two drivers – one male and one female – will complete a lap before the ‘Switch’, and teams can choose which driver goes first. The course is centred around three canyons in the vast desert which surrounds AlUla. The event is the latest partnership to help inspire more Saudi Arabians to get active and lead healthy lifestyles. The investment in sport is thanks to the leadership and guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and their strong belief in the role that sport plays in enriching the country’s economy and ensuring the wellbeing of its society. His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Sport said: “As Saudis, we are honored to host the first ever Extreme E race in AlUla. After succeeding in hosting the biggest motorsports events, such as Dakar Rally, Formula E Diriyah E-Prix and the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix later this year. All this success stems from the support shown to the us all by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is devoted to hosting the biggest sports events in the Kingdom, which is key in inspiring our people to get active and to lead healthy lifestyles.” He added: “We have stunning landscapes across our Kingdom. This weekend will be an opportunity to not just enjoy incredible motorsport but also remind the world of the impact of climate change AlUla will form a great backdrop to tell that story. Extreme E represents a natural partner for Saudi Arabia when it comes to raising awareness around the need to adopt environmentally friendly means of energy production. The Kingdom is placing significant resources to build its renewable energy sector as part of its Vision 2030.” Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) added: “We’re very grateful for the leadership and guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabians love their motorsport and I know they won’t want to miss this weekend. Extreme E promises incredible racing, amazing new electric powered SUVs and some of the best male and female drivers anywhere in the world. As well as thrilling us all, Extreme E shares our passion to help protect the climate and live more sustainable lives. It should be a memorable weekend.” Motorsport is a key element of Saudi Arabia’s investment in sport. The country has become the home of motorsport in the Middle east with a year-round schedule that includes the Dakar Rally, Formula E, Extreme E and this December, Formula 1 . The deserts of Saudi Arabia were chosen to highlight a number of environmental issues – increasing temperatures, more frequent and longer periods of drought, deforestation and desertification – which are all in part instigated by human behaviour and our carbon-intensive lifestyle. The Kingdom is already taking measures to reduce its carbon impact via Vision 2030, a programme with many aims including increased usage of renewable energy. In the last few days, HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced the Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives; which aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60%, planting 50 billion trees, combating pollution and land degradation, and preserving marine life.
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