Three-day festival of sports, music and culture marks the first time tourist visas to the Kingdom have been issued for non-religious activities
RIYADH, Nov 11, 2018: Hundreds of foreign visitors from more than 50 countries will be arriving in Saudi Arabia on tourist visas issued in conjunction with the upcoming inaugural Saudi Ad Diriyah E-Prix weekend in December. This is the first time that Saudi Arabia has issued tourist visas for an event outside the realm of religious tourism. The global mix of race fans will hail from Europe, Central and South America, Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, including China, Japan and Singapore. So far, the USA holds the top spot for the largest number of visa holders, followed by the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany.
From December 13 to 15, the stunning UNESCO heritage site of Ad Diriyah on the outskirts of Riyadh will host Saudi Arabia’s largest-ever festival of racing. The inaugural competition will be accompanied by a schedule chock-full of cultural activities, live music and entertainment featuring globally-renowned performers. These activities will serve as a mesmerizing sideshow to the spectacular action on the track as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship makes its debut not only in Saudi Arabia but in the entire Gulf region.
E-Prix enthusiasts will also be the first to take advantage of the Kingdom’s brand-new ‘Sharek’ visa portal, through which tourist visas can be obtained, bringing significant change to the tourism and hospitality landscape in Saudi Arabia. Visa applicants must purchase E-Prix tickets to secure a visa which can be extended for 30 days beyond the conclusion of the Formula E weekend festivities.
His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “We hope the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix will see fans from around the globe come to Saudi Arabia to watch this epic sporting spectacle as now your ticket is your visa.
“We can promise a line-up both on the track, onstage and amongst a breathtaking historical setting that will excite fans across the world. It is the perfect combination of live sport, entertainment, technology and culture, all in the one place and all at one time.”
As fans of Formula E eagerly anticipate the fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the long-awaited debut of Formula E’s second-generation race car, Ad Diriyah is bristling with activity to transform the ancient site into a venue for automobile racing. Ad Diriyah became the first capital of the Kingdom in 1744 and has been an integral part of national and regional heritage ever since. With its characteristic clay architecture interspersed with palm trees, the site will offer a spectacular contrast of old and new: the centuries-old UNESCO heritage site as a backdrop to the most modern class of automobile racing, Formula E.
With a top priority of protecting the heritage site from any damage due to the race, the circuit is currently under construction on the streets of Ad Diriyah. The 2,495-metre long track with 21 turns will wind its way through the historic area, allowing drivers to get a feel for their new, second-generation cars, which are making their first appearance on the circuit at Ad Diriyah this year. The 11 participating teams will bring 22 of the new cars to the first E Prix to be run under the 10-year partnership between the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the Saudi General Sports Authority (GSA) with the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF).
“Ad Diriyah Gate is a unique destination that showcases the soul of Saudi Arabia’s past and the promise of its future. Ad Diriyah Gate is a living monument to Saudi Arabia’s rich history of community and hospitality, and – in that enduring spirit – we look forward to welcoming people from all over the world to experience its wonders during and after this world-class event,” said Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
Automobile racing is associated with the extremely loud roar of the cars, but Formula E’s electric engines make nary a sound. The usual roar of the engines, however, will be replaced by concerts and other public performances as a massive three-day event unfolds in parallel with the first race of the Formula E season. Set to be the biggest in Saudi history, the concerts lend the entire program a festival-like sheen, with stages throughout Riyadh inviting audiences of Saudis and non-Saudis to enjoy a variety of performances in the pleasant winter weather of Saudi Arabia’s central region. Additionally, a series of cultural events and exhibitions will showcase both old and new artistry and creativity in the Kingdom.
Tickets for the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix start from SAR395 for a seat in the grandstand and include concert access. Tickets are available at http://fiaformulae.com/Ad-Diriyah. International travellers are limited to one ticket per visa.
“Saudi Arabia is racing into the future with Formula E as we open the Kingdom to the world in a transformation that is being supercharged by the Vision 2030 plan, and driven forward by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman,” said His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority. The modern racing series comes to Ad Diriyah at the perfect time, as innovation is high on the Saudi national agenda, and the country embraces new technology in many industries.
This year, Saudia was announced as the new official airline partner of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the race title partner.