November 30, 2021

Why Saudi Arabia is investing so much in motorsport

Why is Saudi Arabia investing so much in motorsport? To better understand this country’s ambitions towards motorsport and how it will handle the #WeRaceAsOne message, we spoke with Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz for this edition of #ThinkingForward.

“It’s not just motorsports, but maybe they are a big focus of attention. We are actually investing in a lot of sports with the kingdom.”, declares the Prince. “The government understands that sport plays an important role in the future of young people. 70% of the population is under the age of 40. So we need to make them active. We need to engage them more and ensure that we do so. the right way. In 2017, we had 32 federations [sportives], today we have 92. It shows you that there is a big investment being made within the kingdom. “

The Saudi model, which is part of the Vision 2030 strategy for the country, is to invest in sport and to increase the level of competition at the international level so that local athletes can learn from international athletes and thus improve their level. Motorsport provided a first example with the FIA ​​Baja World Championship, where the country won several driver titles, most notably the T3 category with Saudi driver Dania Akeel. This will be present on the Dakar 2022.

“Only four years ago women were not allowed to drive [en Arabie saoudite], so you can see that development is not just about sport “, he announces. “It’s about quality of life, it’s about giving young people a chance, it’s about being present on the international scene.”

However, this increased importance on the world stage is drawing attention to the country. And in the coming weeks, that attention will be stronger with the arrival of the F1 community in Saudi Arabia and its social justice message #WeRaceAsOne. How will they welcome him?

“Everyone is welcome in the country. We have our culture and our habits like all other countries, and we respect them.”, declares Prince Abdulaziz. “And that’s it. We are looking forward to hosting many events in the future. We welcome everyone who comes from all over the world to see and visit Saudi Arabia. Everyone is welcome. We respect everyone, and we’re going to put together a show that is suitable for everyone and we will make sure that we achieve it… Hopefully everyone who sees the race will have a different experience than anyone else. “

Jeddah Street Circuit

Jeddah Street Circuit

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Photo de: Uncredited

Jeddah Street Circuit

Jeddah Street Circuit

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Photo de: Uncredited

Jeddah Street Circuit

Jeddah Street Circuit

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Photo de: Uncredited

Jeddah Street Circuit

Jeddah Street Circuit

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Photo de: Uncredited

Jeddah Street Circuit

Jeddah Street Circuit

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Photo de: Uncredited

Prince Abdulaziz observes that it was the arrival of Formula E in 2018 that prompted the creation of a tourist visa, something that did not previously exist in Saudi Arabia. “There was no tourist visa accepted worldwide, in Saudi Arabia, before 2017. A process was initiated through Formula E. In three months, the Ministry of Tourism adopted this system and then l ‘set up in the field of sport “, he explains. “Today, over 50 countries / nationalities have the capacity to receive a visa on arrival. In the past, we could not host other events because the country was not open to that.”

Regarding Formula 1, the recent Global Fan Survey showed that the public is increasingly young and feminine. There is also a strong convergence with gamers / players under 24.

“I think it’s the right time for us. I really think Formula 1, with its new management, has changed its philosophy about what the discipline is. It is more committed to its fans.”, he says. “You see them very active on social media and you see the Netflix series. It all drew a lot of people to Formula 1. People who are not really interested in racing have been watching this series. fans. I think it’s this approach that will change the game; bring the young people, the next generation, to be part of the future of Formula 1. For us it’s amazing because as I mentioned, 70 % of the population under 40, and they are very comfortable with technology. “

As for video games and eSports, Abdulaziz believes that they represent a great opportunity for the kingdom, due to the demographics of the population and the passion for sport.

“The beauty of video games is that you can play it anywhere, anytime. We sponsored the Le Mans Virtual race which took place during the lockdown. We found that a lot of people of the kingdom wished to participate. “

“It’s important that we have our own federation, which manages gaming within the kingdom. I think it’s the future. And I think we should give it as much importance as any. sport.”

“It is very important for the youth and for the future. We should be part of this development.”