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ADV NewsDetails Announced for 2020 Dakar Rally Move to Saudi Arabia

Details Announced for 2020 Dakar Rally Move to Saudi Arabia

The Dakar Rally moves from South America to the Middle East for a fresh start.

Published on 04.25.2019

The Dakar Rally will start in the Middle East for the first time next year with Saudi Arabia having signed a five-year deal to host the prestigious race. Since 2009, the event had been relocated to South America, following terrorists threats that forced cancellation of the 2008 Rally running through Africa.

Rumors of continuous difficulties with holding the race in South America had been brewing for a while, culminating this year in the event running only in Peru after failed negotiations between neighboring countries and Dakar organizers. In spite of having the option to hold another South American edition in 2020, the ongoing economic uncertainty saw Dakar Rally organizers looking for other hosts, ultimately closing negotiations with Saudi Arabia.


The varied landscapes of the 30th country to host the Dakar have all the ingredients for a well-rounded route with 1.4 million square miles of desert as well as the Asir mountain range. A wide range of challenges will color the rally, including canyons, dunes, mountains, wadis and more. The terrain is expected to put Dakar competitors through their paces on all fronts: driving and riding, navigation and endurance.

Dakar Rally 2020 in Saudi Arabia
Photo by Charly Lopez/ASO

“Africa, South America… and now Asia. Here, in the largest state in the region, we can let our imagination run riot with the infinite possibilities for a tough, balanced and varied course. The sporting challenge that we are putting together for the 42nd edition will tap the full potential of this vast country and its mosaic of deserts, mountains, canyons, valleys and coastal landscapes,” said Dakar director, David Castera.

2017 Dakar winner, Sam Sunderland added: “This change is good for me, because I’ve lived in Dubai for 10 years, adapting well to the Middle East. It’s positive for the Dakar to discover a new territory. One thing is for sure, though: everybody in this sport is excited to discover a new land, a new race, a new format.”

Dakar Rally 2020 Route

Dakar Rally 2020 route

Start – Jeddah (January 2-5)

Home to 3.5 million people, the second-largest city in the country is also its economic heart – thanks to its commercial port on the Red Sea, which goes back to the 7th century. Just for once, the gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina will also be a launch pad for the drivers, riders and crews of the Dakar. King Fahd’s Fountain, which ejects water at a speed of 375 km/h, and Jeddah Tower, which will soon reach a height of 1,001 m, will inspire the competitors with grandiose ideas and a burning ambition.

Rest Day – Riyadh

The sprawling orchards that gave the city its name («gardens» in Arabic) in the 18th century have mostly given way to an urban area extending over more than 1,500 km² (versus 105 km² for Paris and 203 km² for Buenos Aires) and home to over six million people. The demographic growth of the capital since the 1970s has gone hand in hand with the building of striking skyscrapers born from revolutionary architectural ideas, including the 267 m Al Faisaliyah Center, 302 m Kingdom Center and 307 m Burj Rafal.

Finish – Al Qiddiya (January 17th)

The Dakar Rally will be the first world-class sporting event held in Al Qiddiya, a city whose foundation stone was laid in 2018 and which will be focused on entertainment and culture. The vast complex, located about 40 kilometers from Riyadh, will include attractions such as a theme and amusement park, world-class sports facilities and multidisciplinary art centers. It is set to open to the public in 2022.

Author: ADV Pulse Staff

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April 25, 2019 1:51 pm

Interesting geography in SA; but can we get past the politics? Time will tell.

Eric G Hall
Eric G Hall
April 25, 2019 3:13 pm

Sounds exciting to me!

April 25, 2019 3:22 pm

So much for all the women who were racing, or had hoped to.

April 25, 2019 10:33 pm
Reply to  kerrizor

Women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

S. Berg
S. Berg
April 29, 2019 6:17 pm
Reply to  sbashir

Not without the “permission” of a male guardian. F**k that. Saudi authorities don’t allow women to leave the house without a male relative/guardian.. The organizers of the Dakar rally couldn’t care less about women riders, obviously.

Sleeping Dog
Sleeping Dog
April 29, 2019 7:16 pm

Why is motorcycling doing anything to improve the image of the murderer MBS? Murdering innocents is what the Saudi’s do best.


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