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Saudi Arabia is making its mark in yet another sport as a multi-year deal sees the country join the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar from 2025.

The 10-year deal with WRC Promoter, which holds the commercial rights to the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) authorised motorsports series, has created the Rally Saudi Arabia, and marks the WRC’s return to the Middle East since the 2011 Jordan Rally.

Although subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council approval, the agreement is indicative of the leading role in sport Saudi Arabia has taken over recent years. The Kingdom has hosted numerous events across a number of sports, largely centred around the ‘Riyadh Season’ sports series.

WRC Promoter Managing Director, Jona Siebel, remarked. “We’re excited by the opportunity to be back in the Middle East and in a country with a proud rallying tradition. 

“Each day will offer vastly distinctive challenges to the drivers and highlight everything Saudi Arabia has to offer, from cityscapes to the desert and from the mountains to the ocean. We are confident that this is a rally that will add its own unique identity to the championship.”

Saudi Arabia has never hosted a WRC event before the series, but the WRC has taken note of the country’s activity in sports of late, including motorsports. The Kingdom has hosted the Dakar Rally and Formula One previously. 

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, for example, has been held since 2021, and is now a regular staple of the international F1 season. Outside of motorsports, the WRC has also cited Saudi Arabia’s endeavours in golf and football.

FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, added: “This is a great moment for motor sport in the Middle East. It has been over a decade since the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) last visited the region, and from my own experience, I know very well the unique challenges that the drivers and codrivers will face when Rally Saudi Arabia gets underway in 2025. 

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for national and regional drivers to showcase their talents on the world stage, and I am very thankful to HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal for continuing to push forward and develop our sport in Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia continues to cement itself as an international sports hosting centre, part of the country’s efforts to diversify its economy and cultivate a sector based around sports and entertainment.

Some of its most notable efforts have been boxing, hosting several world title fights, whilst the UFC will host an event in Riyadh in both 2024 and 2025. The WTA has also agreed a sponsorship deal with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund – and will host its finals in the country until 2026.

“We are thrilled to host the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in 2025,” said HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the Saudi Motorsport Company.

“By growing our motorsport portfolio and further increasing our commitment to hosting major motorsport series such as WRC in the Kingdom, we remain true to the goals of Vision 2030 which aims to improve the lives of all Saudis. 

“We will use the experience we have gained from delivering so many world class motorsport events to ensure that the Saudi edition on the WRC calendar is one of the standout events of the 2025 season and beyond.”

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