Formula E event shows world what Saudi Arabia is capable of: GSA chairman Prince Abdulaziz

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Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, speaking ahead of the new season. (Supplied: Diriyah Season)
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Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, speaking ahead of the new season. (Supplied: Diriyah Season)
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Saudi Arabia hosted its first race in December last year and this year the event takes place on Nov. 22 and 23. (Supplied: Diriyah Season)
Updated 22 November 2019

Formula E event shows world what Saudi Arabia is capable of: GSA chairman Prince Abdulaziz

  • Chairman said Saudi Arabia can be a regional leader in promoting electronic motorsport
  • Saudi Arabia hosted its first race in December last year

RIYADH: The hosting of Formula E has been a turning point for Saudi Arabia and has shown what the Kingdom is capable of, according to the chairman of the General Sports Authority.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, speaking ahead of the new season of motor racing that features battery powered cars, said last year’s inaugural event in the Kingdom was a platform for other achievements in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform program.
“Last year was a turning point for Saudi Arabia on many levels, we saw women driving, movie theaters pop up and so much more,” he said.
“This all paved the way to host events such as Formula E, through this event, we launched the first tourist visas and welcomed 80 different nationalities to the Kingdom.”
Saudi Arabia was awarded the hosting rights for a stop on the Formula E championship last year.
The all-electric racing series, which began in 2014, aims to provide a platform for new technologies for electric vehicles.
Saudi Arabia hosted its first race in December last year and this year the event takes place on Nov. 22 and 23 at the Diriyah Circuit set inside a UNESCO World Heritage site in Riyadh.
“The whole world saw what we are capable of as a nation, remembering as well we were building it all from scratch,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
“The results showed that our capabilities exceeded not only the Middle East standards, but we also shined as one of the best Formula E rounds of the season.”
The chairman said Saudi Arabia can be a regional leader in promoting electronic motorsport.
“I think Saudi Arabia and Formula E benefit each other very well, the country provides a great platform for Formula E’s message of being eco (friendly) throughout the entire region,” he said.
“The Middle East is new to the concept of electric motorsport and the race in Diriyah helped amplify that message.”
The prince said the number of the tourists visiting the Kingdom for the event was good for the country, but was also pleased with interest in the sport from Saudis and its impact on the country.
“We have seen a rise in the number of tourists visiting Saudi Arabia for such events and our ambition is for the world to see Saudi as a welcoming destination for sports business and entertainment,” he said.
“The people in Saudi Arabia have embraced the sport rather quickly, and we have seen how the tickets sold out last year, the demand was much higher than the supply — this year we believe two rounds are adequate for the market.
“The benefits of hosting such events a numerous, we have seen an increase in job creation both directly and indirectly and these types of events are good in catalyzing the economy.”
The prince said Formula E is just a small part of the government’s sporting vision to inspire young Saudis. The Kingdom will host heavyweight boxing, tennis and golf events as well as the upcoming Saudi Cup horse race.
“Hopefully soon, we can also see Saudi citizens competing and becoming champions in each and everyone one of these sports,” he said.


Bangladesh call up uncapped Mahmud for Pakistan tour amid safety debate

Updated 18 January 2020

Bangladesh call up uncapped Mahmud for Pakistan tour amid safety debate

  • Some senior players and coaches have declined to play in Pakistan citing safety concerns
  • Bangladesh will play their T20s in Lahore from Jan. 24 and return to Pakistan for test matches in February

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Saturday called up uncapped fast bowler Hasan Mahmud for their three-match Twenty20 series in Pakistan which has been engulfed by fears over player safety.
Opener Tamim Iqbal returns after skipping a home series against Afghanistan and Zimbabwe and a tour in India. Mosaddek Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Taijul Islam and Abu Hider have been dropped from the squad.
“Hasan is a quick bowler and has a good future. So we thought maybe this is the right time to give him a break,” said Bangladesh Cricket Board’s chief selector MinHajjul Abedin.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim was left out after saying he would not go to Pakistan for security reasons.
A senior BCB official said batting coach Neil McKenzie, spin bowling coach Daniel Vettori and fielding coach Rayan Cook would also not accompany the team.
Mushfiqur, 32, remained adamant that he would not be with the squad when they leave on Wednesday.
“I decided it a long time ago and informed the board. I have submitted a letter too. My family is concerned, and don’t want me to go,” Mushfiqur told reporters late Friday.
He has also kept his name off the draft for the Pakistan Super League T20 tournament.
“There’s no bigger sin for me than not playing for Bangladesh. But I had refused an offer to play in the PSL after finding out that the tournament will be entirely held in Pakistan,” he said.
“I agree that things have improved in Pakistan, but I will gain confidence when I see teams going there for the next two years. I have been to Pakistan before, it is a great place to play cricket.”
Mushfiqur’s absence will be a blow for Bangladesh who are already without suspended all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and lost their two recent Tests in India inside three days. “I wish good luck to our team,” he said.
Bangladesh play their T20s in Lahore from January 24-27 before returning home. They will go back to Pakistan for the first Test starting February 7 and visit again to play a one day international in Karachi on April 3 and the second Test from April 5.
Bangladesh squad: Mahmudullah (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Naim, Nazmul Hossain, Liton Das, Mohammad Mithun, Afif Hossain, Mahadi Hasan, Aminul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain and Hasan Mahmud.