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The Dakar Rally, is perhaps the world's best-known off-roading motorsports event in the world. Now a new report by Motorsport.com states that the Dakar Rally is set to run in Saudi Arabia from 2020 after Amaury Sport Organisation, (ASO) the organiser of the off-roading race signed an agreement with the Middle-Eastern nation for five years.
The move to Saudi Arabia will be the second time in its history that the off-roading race moves continents. In 2008, terrorist threats to the rally route in Mauritania led to the race being cancelled that year. The next year, the Dakar Rally moved to South America and has stayed there since.
However, this year's race, considered to be one of the toughest yet was run only in one country — Peru — after its neighbours Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador failed to reach terms with Amaury Sport Organisation to host the race. While the organisers of the race have refused to comment on the Dakar Rally's move to Saudi Arabia, economic conditions in South America and the growing sporting ambitions of the Middle-Eastern oil giant should provide the Dakar Rally the stability it requires.
The deal will also mean that the 2020 Edition of the Dakar Rally will start from Riyadh next January. Like the 2019 edition, the 2020 edition of the Dakar Rally is expected to be confined to the borders of Saudi Arabia.
However, the next edition of the Dakar Rally will have quite a lot more area to play with Saudi Arabia's 2.25 million kilometres of desert open for the rally to scythe through. The rally will also be able to make use of the Asir Mountain range in south-western Saudi Arabia that runs parallel to the Red Sea and where the temperatures can range from minus two to 31 degrees Celsius in the month of January.
It is expected that the Dakar Rally could move to other countries in the region including Oman and Egypt in the future once things get better with regards to the geopolitical situation in the area. Also, another bone of contention for the race could be how the country deals with female members of the teams who are either racing, team members, organisers and journalists.