The country which hosts the Dakar rally until 2025 and which organizes the 3rd edition of the Saudi Tour, a professional cycling race in five stages (from January 30 to February 3, 2023), has recently invested colossal sums to host events of tennis and golf or a Formula 1 Grand Prix and even intends to apply for the organization of the Football World Cup in 2030.
The Saudi club Al-Nassr has also just signed Ronaldo, five times golden ball, until 2025, with emoluments estimated at 200 million euros over the duration of his contract.
Football, a new showcase for Saudi Arabia’s “soft power”
The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr, at the end of 2022, is a masterstroke for the kingdom which wishes to shine internationally through sport. “I have no doubt that his arrival will improve our championship and benefit the ecosystem of Saudi football in the long term”, rejoices with World Yasser Al Misehal, the president of the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF).
The last friendly match organized on January 19, 2023 against Lionel Messi’s PSG shed light on this operation.
An unprecedented publicity stunt for the kingdom even if Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG), led by Lionel Messi, beat (5-4) the players of two clubs in the country’s capital, Al-Hilal and Al- Nassr at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. This exhibition match probably brought together for the last time the two most famous striker-scorers in football: the Argentinian, seven-time Golden Ball winner and recently crowned world champion in Qatar, and the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, winner at five times the trophy rewarding the best footballer of the year.
By securing the services of one of the best players of his generation, Saudi Arabia aims to position itself on the map of world football. His arrival is part of the desire of the authorities of the kingdom to draw the spotlight on their championship, with a view, perhaps, to filing a joint candidacy with Greece and Egypt to organize the World Cup in 2030, then that its Qatari neighbor has just hosted the 2022 World Cup.
Cycling, the other sport that the kingdom cherishes
The Saudi Tour returns in 2023 for the second consecutive year.
In addition to football, the country also relies on cycling to shine internationally. Launched in 2020, under the aegis of the Saudi Arabian Cycling Federation, the Saudi Tour returns in 2023 for the second consecutive year. On the program, five stages between January 30 and February 3, on which sixteen teams will compete.
The route is aimed at both sprinters and puncher-climbers, like the finish of the third stage at the summit of Abu Rakah or the end of the fourth which consists of a 2.5 km ascent at 12%, with passages at 22% at 7 km from the finish.
In 2022, the final victory went to Belgian Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) on the strength of his stage success at Skyviews. The Colombian Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain – Victorious) and the Portuguese Rui Costa now rider of the Intermarché – Circus – Wanty team took their place on the podium in 2nd and 3rd places. Alexandre Geniez, who is no longer a cyclist after having had trouble with the law, finished 8th and first Frenchman.
The Dakar Rally remains in Saudi Arabia until at least 2025
The Dakar Rally remains in Saudi Arabia until 2025.
Good news for the kingdom. The Dakar will remain in Saudi Arabia and will not activate the departure clause provided for after the first five years in the ten-year contract which saw the famous rally-raid establish itself in the kingdom in 2020, David Castera recently indicated. , race director. “I am very happy that we are staying, we still have a lot of deserts to explore, and there is enormous potential in the country”, welcomed the organizer as Sunday ends in Dammam, on the Gulf. , the 45th edition of the rally-raid.
The Amaury Sport Organization ASO group, organizer of the rally-raid is also considering the possibility of opening the route to neighboring countries. After the Sahel and the first edition in 1978, then South America from 2009, the Dakar, the biggest rally-raid in the world, in 2020 made Saudi Arabia its setting.