Fears Dakar Rally could overshadow Hail racing event

Driver Siarhei Viazovich, of Belarus, and co-drivers Anton Zaparoshchanka, of Belarus, and Pavel Haranin, of Belarus, race their MAZ truck during stage five of the Dakar Rally between Al Ula and Hail in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 9, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Fears Dakar Rally could overshadow Hail racing event

  • The international event, run in the Kingdom’s northern desert

HAIL: As the dust settled after Dakar Rally competitors on Thursday roared into Hail, there were fears that the world-famous race could overshadow the Saudi city’s own prestigious motoring event.
Hail, and its population of more than 1.2 million people, has played host to the Hail Nissan International Rally — the first of its kind to be staged in Saudi Arabia — since 2006.
The international event, run in the Kingdom’s northern desert, was approved by the Paris-based International Automobile Federation (FIA) in 2008 and over the years has been a major tourism money-spinner for the Hail region.
But there were mixed feelings among motor racing fans in the city over the future of the event in Hail when up against the competition of the Dakar Rally.
Private sector worker, Mansour Al-Khateeb, told Arab News that the Dakar Rally would add value to Hail’s international race.
“When the competitors come here and see the attractive landscape of the Nafud Desert, they won’t hesitate to take part in the Hail rally in its future editions, especially if they know that it has become an international racing event.”
Al-Khateeb added that Hail’s 1,300-km rally had gained global popularity through the participation of a large number of local and international contestants.
“In addition to the FIA, the Hail rally organizers have also succeeded in getting unlimited support from various local authorities including the General Sports Authority (GSA) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.”
He pointed out that the Dakar Rally was an addition to the city and would serve as an important advertising campaign for Hail on different levels.
But Abdurrahman Al-Shammari, a retired Health Ministry employee, felt the Dakar event could represent a threat to the future of the Hail rally. “I fear Dakar occurring in Hail could negatively influence the popularity of the Hail rally on an international level.” He suggested the Hail rally should be part of the Dakar in one of its stages — a race within a longer rally, especially with the two competitions taking place in the same period of the year.
“Top local drivers are taking part in the Dakar, and this can affect their participation in the Hail rally. Unless the officials of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) discuss this idea or a similar one with the Dakar organizers, the Hail rally is feared to gradually lose its glow,” Al-Shammari added.


Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts

Updated 02 June 2020

Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts

  • Brent price has doubled in five weeks
  • OPEC talks may be brought forward

DUBAI: Oil prices surged toward $40 a barrel on Monday as hopes rose for an early agreement to extend the big production cuts agreed by Saudi Arabia and Russia under the OPEC+ alliance.

Brent, the global benchmark, jumped by more 9 percent to nearly $39, continuing the surge that has doubled the price in five weeks — the best performance in its history. It recovered after record supply cuts agreed between the 23 countries of the OPEC+ partnership, and enforced cuts in US shale oil.

DME Oman crude, the regional benchmark in which a lot of Saudi Aramco exports are priced, rose above $40 a barrel for the first time since early March.

Market sentiment was buoyed by the possibility that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would agree with non-OPEC members to extend the cuts for a longer period than was agreed in April.

Oil analysts expect OPEC to fast track a “virtual” meeting to formally agree to maintaining cuts at the record 9.7 million barrels a day level. The meeting was scheduled for June 9, but bringing it forward would allow producers more time to set pricing levels.

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An official with one OPEC delegation told Arab News there was consensus among the 23 OPEC+ members for the new date, which could be as early as June 4. The meeting will also consider how long the current level of cuts would be maintained. Some OPEC members want it to run to the end of the year, other producers would prefer a two-month extension.

Omar Najia, global head of derivatives with trader BB Energy, told a forum run by Gulf Intelligence consultancy: “I’d be amazed if OPEC did not extend the higher level of cuts. As long as Saudi Arabia and Russia continue saying nice things to each other I’d expect the rally to continue.”

A Moscow source close to the oil industry said energy officials there had come to the conclusion that “the deal is working” and it was important to keep prices at an “acceptable” level.

Sentiment was also affected by a comparatively high level of compliance with the new cuts, running at about 75 percent among OPEC+ members, with only Iraq and Nigeria noticeable under-compliers.

Robin Mills, chief executive of Qamar Energy, said: “That’s where I’d expect it to be after two months in such a fluid situation. It will be even better in June.”