Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday the launch of a new electronic visa that will allow international motor racing fans to travel to the kingdom to attend the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix to be held near Riyadh later this year.
“Saudi Arabia will open up its borders to fans of live sport, music and culture for the first time with the launch of a new online visa process,” said the Saudi General Sports Authority in a statement.
The new visa process platform known as Sharek will be introduced for the Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix on December 15, it added.
The historical city of Ad Diriyah, the first seat of power for Saudi kings, will host the biggest festival of car racing, live music and entertainment over three days.
Today’s announcement was attended by Formula E stars Felipe Massa, Susie Wolff and André Lotterer.
Sharek has been launched as part of the country’s Vision 2030, strategy for the future, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Organisers expressed hope that a large number of international fans would take advantage to travel to the kingdom.
Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, vice-chair of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, said: “This is a truly game-changing moment for Saudi Arabia and one that we can share with the world. It is very fitting that the such a futuristic and sustainable sport as Formula E is pointing to the future direction of our country.
“With the introduction with ‘Sharek’ our visa entry process for fans worldwide, we can share the event. We hope the Saudia 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.
“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.”
Saudi Arabia has worked with UNESCO to build the track from the historic city’s existing road network. More details about the race will be announced in the coming weeks.
The event is officially sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
Formula E joins sporting powerhouses such as WWE and European Tour Golf that have forged long-term partnerships with Saudi Arabia as it establishes itself as a destination for global sports.
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