To the Middle East
The Dakar Rally is one of the most amazing races on earth. For years it was held in Africa, but after threats of terrorism, the race was moved to South America. Now the ASO, which is the organizer behind the Dakar Rally has decided to move the race to Saudi Arabia officially. The ASO signed a five-year deal to hold the race there.
In terms of the quality of the race, nobody can argue that Saudi Arabia is a good place to do it. The landscape is good for it and there’s plenty of it. Saudi Arabia’s recently becoming more of a modern world power and attracting more and more attention. However, some of that attention isn’t good.
The nation has been criticized for its treatment of women and its efforts to censor the media, most notably with the murder of American newspaper reporter Jamal Khashoggi. While I doubt there would be any reason to censor the Dakar Rally at all, it’s a little troubling to have the race held there.
As Motorbike Writer points out, Australia would have been another good option and one that doesn’t have a government marred by controversy. When it was first rumored that the Dakar Rally would move from South America, it was said that it might return to Africa, something I would personally like to see. I hope the race turns out well in Saudi Arabia, but I question whether or not it was a good move to decide to take it there.