Riyadh will host the first race of Formula E’s fifth season later this year, an event that will also mark the debut of the series’ Gen2 racer.
The all-electric series announced a ten-year agreement with the capital of Saudi Arabia, the first Middle East country to be visited by Formula E.
“Bringing racing to Riyadh for the first round of the new season is the perfect setting for the next phase of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship,” said FE founder and CEO Alejandro Agag.
“An exciting and vibrant country that is focussing on its future, Saudi Arabia will be the ideal venue to mark the competitive debut of the next generation Formula E cars.
“We think Saudi Arabia – with the new vision of Prince Abdulaziz (vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority), Prince Khalid (President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation), and the country – is a fitting location to launch the latest chapter of the electric street racing series.
“Many other sports are already increasing their presence in Saudi Arabia and we’re proud that they’ve chosen Formula E over other categories in racing.”
The choice is likely to be viewed as a controversial one by fans of the motorsport community, many of whom voiced their reprobation when Riyadh was chosen as the venue of choice for the annual Race of Champions event that took place at the beginning of the year.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is regularly denounced, although many believe the country has now embraced change, mainly on the social front.
Hosting a Formula E event is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil.
“Saudi Arabia is looking to the future and Formula E is the motorsport of the future, that’s why this is such an exciting opportunity,” said Prince Abdulaziz.
“It aligns perfectly with the country’s 2030 vision and offers the prospect of world-class racing on the streets of the capital for the first time in our history.
“For all fans, men, women, young and old, the dream of a hosting a ‘home race’ will now come true.
“The length of the partnership will give Saudi Arabia and Formula E the platform to create a lasting legacy for both the sport globally and the Kingdom over the course of a decade.
“This is the latest in a series of game-changing sports events that the people of Saudi Arabia will now be able to enjoy as families, with benefits that go far beyond the sport to deliver a positive impact across our society.”