Fostering Force & Speed: Famous Rallies Across The Middle East

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Coffs Harbour, Australia on November 17, 2018 // Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // SI201811170160 // Usage for editorial use only //

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Formula 1 racing and the several events staged throughout the Middle East, but have you heard of rally competitions in the region? They consist of a number of fast-moving special stages. These competitions may take place on public or private roads that are off-limits to the general public. Then, in an effort to cover the distance in the least amount of time, each driver and co-driver complete a timed run of each special stage. What then is the co-driver’s responsibility? The co-driver must read the driver the route instructions from a road book that lists intersections and some concealed dangers on the course.

Let’s then go on an adventure to learn more about famous rallies across the Middle East.

Qatar International Rally

The Qatar International Rally is a global rally racing competition held close to Doha, the capital of Qatar. This rally is part of The Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) which also features the Dubai International Rally and others. This rally has been held each year since its inception in 1970 and has long been regarded as a staple of the MERC. The rally has produced a number of champions, with Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah winning 13 times in 14 years. Saeed Al-Hajri of Qatar has five wins, and Mohammed bin Sulayem of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has nine victories to his name. The 2022 edition will be held from 10-12 of Feb. and you can check for more info here.

Rally Jameel

On March 2021, it was announced that Rally Jameel, the first-ever navigation rally for women drivers in Saudi Arabia, will take place. This rally was approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) in an effort to inspire Saudi females and see more women racing in Saudi Arabia. This race also aligns with Kingdom Vision 2030, which emphasizes the need of building a thriving culture that encourages and empowers all members of society, including women. This year, Rally Jameel was held on March 8th (which happened to be women’s International day). The race took place from Hail, passing through Al Qassim, and ended in Riyadh.

Rally of Lebanon

The rally of Lebanon was first held in 1968. It is also part of The Middle East Rally Championship which was held this year from Sept. 2nd to 4th. Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah along with his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel clinched the 44th edition of the Rally of Lebanon title. The rally in Lebanon was the last stage of the Middle East Rally Championship that came to an early end with the cancellation of the Cyprus Rally.

Via skoda

Kuwait International Rally

The Kuwait International Rally is held on the coastline of Kuwait between the capital Kuwait City and the border with Saudi Arabia. It is the largest motorsport event held in Kuwait annually. The rally has consistently been part of the Middle East Rally Championship. This year, the event took place from March 17-19th. Emirati driver Mohammed bin Sulayem and Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah are the most successful drivers in the event’s history, each taking four wins.

Dubai International Baja

This rally, which first took place in 1984, used to be the MERC‘s annual closing ceremony. In 1989, the rally’s name was changed to the Emirates Rally, but it was changed back the next year. The rally hosted competitions for both the car and motorcycle categories in 2017. Emirate’s Mohammed bin Sulayem has dominated the rally in the car division, taking 15 victories overall, including 12 straight wins from 1991 to 2002. On the other hand, Nasser Al-Attiyah won eleven races, including eight in a row from 2007 to 2014. However, the event this year will take place from Dec. 1st until 3rd.


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