Middle East nations are poised to host more Formula E races, Saudi boss says

Saudi Arabia has been on the Formula E calendar since 2018, hosting races at the Riyadh Street Circuit – named after the country’s capital, on the outskirts of which is Diriyah.

Since then, Formula 1 has had its own Saudi race on the streets of Jeddah, having held races in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

Boutagy, CEO and founder of advertising firm CBX, says the appetite for Formula E is growing in the region – especially as many of the region’s oil companies and investment funds plan to diversify their interests in line with global interests for more sustainable forms of propulsion.

Asked by Autosport if more Middle Eastern nations would be willing to hold Formula E races, Boutagy says adding more races is key to expanding its media presence in the region.

“I think the more motorsport there is in the region the better for all of us, whether it’s F1 or WEC or Dakar or Formula E. I think this region could host another Formula E race or two,” he said he.

“We also have Extreme E, which is cool. I think the more the better. It educates people, people get used to it, instead of waiting all year, forgetting and not realizing what happened.

“The more it’s on your neck of the woods, the more you’re going to pay attention to it and it’s going to be in the media and the news. It’s cool. I think it’s better. It educates people.

“In the last ten years, motorsport has grown significantly in the Middle East.”

Diriyah is one of many projects in Saudi Arabia being funded for its growth, supported by the UNESCO World Heritage Site in At Turaif District.

These projects also include the “mega-project” Qiddiya, which will include a circuit earmarked for future F1 and MotoGP races, and the Smart City Neom, which has ties to McLaren’s Formula E team.

A view of the pit lane

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Asked whether the Saudi Arabian Formula E races could potentially be moved to one of those venues or even hold additional rounds, Boutagy says he’s open to any of those outcomes – but would like to see the Diriyah races on stay on account.

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“I’m up for a challenge. But yeah, I wish it stays. Like I said, it’s a very big development site. Sometime, every year, they come and open the track, close the track, they build.” much there.

“It’s a huge, huge project. It’s one of the giga projects and I think it will be one of the first to be completed for Vision 2030.

“The original plan when we signed was to show Saudi for three years, something like that. But now they have Formula 1 in Jeddah, they have the Dakar, which takes you everywhere.

“I’m happy to stay, I’m happy to move. I’m happy either way. It would be cool. I don’t know, we’ll see.

“In Qiddiya, MotoGP comes to the track to be built and WRC. you have everything

“I even think they’re going to get NASCAR! They want to go, I hear they want to go international too. We’ll see.”

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