DUBAI: The heads of the national motor sport authorities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Bahrain have joined forces to develop a new regional series aimed at attracting and developing new talent.
The format for a new Gulf Cooperation Council motor sport championship will be shaped over the next few months by officials of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMSF), the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and the Bahrain Motor Federation (BMF).
This follows a meeting in Riyadh last week between SAMSF president Prince Sultan Bin Bandar Al Faisal, ATCUAE president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and new QMMF chairman Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Latif Al Mannai.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the BMF president, was unable to attend the meeting but took part in a conference call with his three counterparts to decide on a plan of action and applauded the initiative.
“The future of motor sports in this region depends on the development of a new series of events which are more affordable, and which are designed to attract and accommodate a new generation of young talent,” said Sulayem, who received a warm welcome from Prince Sultan. “The national motor sport authorities of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain are committed to working closely together to design a new championship which will make regional motor sports sustainable in the years ahead.”
“It was a very positive meeting, and I and my three counterparts were in full agreement on the course of action that now needs to be taken for the benefit of motor sport,” he added.
For his part, Sulayem said, “Prince Sultan and Sheikh Abdullah welcomed this initiative and pledged their full support to develop a series which will be attractive to both Arabic and expatriate competitors.”
“Together, we recognize the increasingly important role that can be played by sport in reinforcing relationships between our countries,” he added.
Following the meeting, Prince Sultan, Sulayem and Al Mannai spoke by phone to FIA (International Automobile Federation) president Jean Todt to convey the highly positive nature of the discussions.
Sulayem said the planning of the new championship will take into account the region’s historic association with rallying, as well as the growth of circuit racing in recent years, in order to give the series the broadest appeal.