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

1 / 3
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, speaking ahead of the new season. (Supplied: Diriyah Season)
2 / 3
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, speaking ahead of the new season. (Supplied: Diriyah Season)
3 / 3
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.


England try to deny Ireland a Grand Slam

Updated 22 February 2020

England try to deny Ireland a Grand Slam

  • This will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August

TWICKENHAM: Owen Farrell will attempt to end the Grand Slam hopes of father Andy when England face Ireland in the Six Nations.

Sunday’s match at Twickenham will be the first time the pair have been in opposition since Andy Farrell was appointed Ireland head coach following the team’s disappointing first-round exit at the World Cup.

Promoted from within the setup after Joe Schmidt stood down, Farrell senior has yet to lose as Ireland boss following wins over Scotland and Six Nations title-holders Wales.

Those victories have left the former England dual code international’s current side just 80 minutes away from a Triple Crown.

But they will have to first get past a home team captained by son Owen, with the center a key figure in England’s run to the World Cup final in Japan both as skipper and first-choice goalkicker.

England coach Eddie Jones brought Andy Farrell into rugby union from rugby league while at Saracens, only to dispense with the then assistant coach when he succeeded Stuart Lancaster as Red Rose boss following the hosts’ group-stage departure at the 2015 World Cup. 

The Farrells have grown weary of talking about the family dynamics involved when they are on opposite sides.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray praised younger Farrell.  “I’ve played against Owen and toured with him with the (British and Irish) Lions. He’s an incredible player. Even with knowledge of the way he plays, he’s still able to pick the right options — that’s what makes him really hard to defend and analyze,” he said.

England haven’t been quite the same side since a stunning World Cup semifinal win over reigning champions New Zealand was followed a week later by a crushing 32-12 defeat by South Africa.

They then suffered a 24-17 loss away to France in their Six Nations opener before a hard-fought 13-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

Jones has shuffled his backs, with Elliot Daly returning to full-back after George Furbank suffered a recurrence of a longstanding hip and groin problem.

Jonathan Joseph, normally a center, will mark his 50th Test cap by making his first start in the wing berth vacated by Daly.

Both Daly and Joseph can expect plenty of aerial bombardment from Ireland in a match where an England win would put them right back in title contention.

But Jones said Daly would cope and that Joseph was “a great defender,” with “good jumping skills.”

Powerhouse center Manu Tuilagi returns after overcoming the minor groin suffered in the defeat by France, while Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs is restored to the starting line for what will be the scrum-half’s 100th international appearance, his 98 England caps supplemented by two for the Lions.

In the pack, Courtney Lawes moves from lock to blindside flanker, with Jones explaining the switch by saying: “Ireland have got a lot of good carriers... One of Courtney’s strengths is his ruck defense.”

Meanwhile Joe Marler comes in at loose-head prop, with Mako Vunipola missing for family reasons.

Ireland were forced into making a late alteration on Friday to what had been an unchanged team when lock Iain Henderson pulled out, his place taken by Devin Toner.

This will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August.

Ireland, though, completed a Grand Slam at ‘headquarters’ two years ago.

And if they can deny England their favored fast start, while the likes of Tadhg Furlong get on top on the scrum, the Irish could yet enjoy another memorable win.