Dammam Grand Prix kicks off on Thursday

Saudi Arabia to host opening round of Formula 1 Powerboat Championship


DAMMAM — Under the guidance of Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, and in cooperation with the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation (SWSDF), Saudi Arabia will host the opening round of the UIM Formula 1 World Powerboat Championship (F1H2O) at the Dammam Corniche.

Considered one of the world”s most competitive, dangerous and thrilling sports championships, the event will kick off on Thursday and run for three days, culminating with 20 of the world”s most famous powerboat racers competing for the Grand Prix on Saturday, March 30.

Hosted by countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the 2019 F1H2O circuits were officially unveiled at a press conference held by the Union Internationale Motonautique (International Federation of Marine Sports) in Monaco on Saturday where it was announced that Arabia will host the opening round in the presence Prince Albert II of Monaca, world champion racers, and senior F1H2O representatives.

Dammam hosting the event comes as a result of concerted efforts by the General Sport Authority to bring distinctive sports activities to the Kingdom by launching new activities and hosting prominent international sporting events to enhance the local sports sector. These efforts also aim to reinforce Saudi Arabia’s position as a leading sports destination in the Middle East, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

The race, which features 18 drivers from 11 countries, will mark the end of the Eastern Province Season, the first season of the recently-launched “Saudi Seasons” tourism campaign, which includes 11 tourist seasons spanning most of the Saudi regions.

Commenting on the announcement, Prince Abdulaziz said, “The General Sport Authority is looking to significantly augment the local sports sector with various sports, leisure and tourism activities to boost its development and sustainability and key related sectors such as leisure and tourism, as well as strengthen the Kingdom”s position as a leading destination in the Middle East for the world”s largest events.”

He added: “We value the partnership we have forged with the International Federation of Marine Sports, though which we seek to support the Kingdom”s drive to transform the sports sector from the traditional model to a competitive model that boasts attractive investment, entertainment and tourism opportunities by adopting the very highest international standards.”

Prince Sultan Bin Fahad Bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation, commented, “We are proud to host the F1 Powerboat World Championship and the 11 countries who are participating in the Dammam race. It will be the perfect culmination of the Eastern Province tourism season, the first of the recently-launched Saudi Seasons initiative. Through these water sports, we aim to establish a new sports program of events and activities that will encourage more people to play sports and introduce these types of water sports to Saudi youth.”

Prince Sultan said the event is expected to draw more 20,000 spectators from Saudi Arabia and abroad, noting, “I take this opportunity to invite everyone to come and enjoy the event. I would also like to thank the event sponsors, and look forward to the results of the tremendous joint efforts between the various government bodies to provide a modern and unique experience for excitement and adventure seekers from Saudi Arabia and abroad.”

He continued: “Sports events hosted by Saudi Arabia in collaboration with global partners send a clear message that the Kingdom is opening its doors to the world and introduce it to its natural wonders and varied terrains, especially in the Eastern Province.”

Former F1H20 President Nicolò di San Germano commented, “We are delighted to start the 36th season of the UIM F1H2O World Championship in Dammam. I would like to thank the General Sport Authority, the SWSDF for their hard work and cooperation which has enabled us to extend our racing footprint in the Middle East and return to Saudi Arabia.”

The championship and the sport of powerboat racing have a historic, highly successful and valued association with GCC countries, which began in 1993, he said.

“We look forward to a renewed and long lasting association of racing in Saudi Arabia,” di San Germano added.