After having just returned from a visit to Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, it seems a choice place for desert motorsports. There is plenty of open space, sand and desert to have such a race. It will be interesting to see how the area changes in the coming years, hopefully preserving the natural areas and quaint feel there. Here are two news articles highlighting conservation efforts funded from this Desert X Prix race, and one highlighting a racing contestant. I think this quote from the below article says it best about sports in Saudi!
‘“Saudi Arabia is home to a young population which is eager for world-class events and sporting activities. However, it also has a natural habitat for some of the most beautiful and rare species, such as the endangered turtles we are trying to protect through this unique and creative initiative.’
“Extreme E announces new Red Sea conservation initiative” 31 March 2021, arabnews.com link to this article is below. Excerpts from the article follow the link.
“ALULA: Ahead of the first ever Desert X Prix, being held in AlUla, Extreme E has revealed its Legacy Program plans for Saudi Arabia, confirming the electric SUV rally series’ commitment to long-term environmental sustainability.
The new initiative will support turtle conservation along the Red Sea coast in association with Ba’a Foundation, an organization focused on environmental conservation through projects aimed at preserving endangered species, natural habitats, and historical sites.”…
“Extreme E will support the protection of the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, which are under threat for a variety of reasons. These include entanglement in fishing gear, illegal trade in their eggs – considered a delicacy in some countries – and shells, coastal development including building on nesting beaches, and plastic debris.
In addition, rising sand temperatures caused by climate change create gender ratio skews. The higher the temperature, the more likely the turtle is to be female, and rising sea levels can erode nesting beaches and flood nesting sites, destroying eggs.
One of the Saudi nesting spots targeted by the project is Ras Baridi, located 50 kilometers north of Yanbu city, a major site of Red Sea and Indian Ocean significance. Sea turtles are born there and return about 30 years later to reproduce, and then around every five years subsequently.”
This article, “Catie Munnings embracing Extreme E’s electric racing as she plots path to glory in AlUla desert” written by Ali Khaled, 28 March 2021 in arabnews.com. is pretty interesting. Apparently drivers will be using electric race cars!! An excerpt from the article follow the link below.
“On Friday, Munnings and her Andretti United Extreme E co-driver Timmy Hansen will take part in the Desert X Prix across the AlUla desert, the first ever race in the new electric vehicle-only series by Extreme E.
“It’s the first time Timmy and I are racing with an electric vehicle,” she said. “It’s designed like a race car and handles like one. Both of us jumped in and absolutely loved it. It’s drivability is so great, it performs and it’s predictable in its handling, which is important when we’re not getting much seat time before the races.”
Saturday, April 3 will see the qualification rounds between the nine teams, while the final race takes place the following day. For Munnings, brought up on combustion engine cars, one of the big positives is the constant power the electric SUV provides.”