In the weeks following the 2019 edition of the Dakar rally in Peru, rumors that it was the end of the event’s 10-year run in South America surfaced. The earliest rumor was sending the rally back to its home turf in Africa, heading south of the continent this time. A few days later, it was pointed out that an Instagram post suggested Saudi Arabia was trying to seduce the Dakar organizers. It has now been confirmed that the 2020 Dakar will be hosted in Saudi Arabia.
South America served the purpose of the rally well for the past decade since political tensions in Mauritania forced the cancellation of the 2008 edition of the race. Recent political and financial contentions greatly limited the event and forced the 2019 edition to be contained within the boundaries of Peru.
Considering the increasingly hostile climate the event had to face in South America, organizers started considering other locations. It was initially believed the event would head back home to Africa with a potential route through South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and Botswana detailed in an FADM Facebook post. Then an Instagram post by one of the racers himself identified Saudi Arabia as another contender to host the desert raid.
With its 1.4 million square miles of desert, the latter prevailed and sources confirm that a five-year agreement between Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) and Saudi Arabia has been signed. After three decades traveling the Sahara and another one exploring South America, the Dakar will now tackle the Arabian Peninsula. The Middle East has been getting some serious exposure in recent years thanks to the increasing number of sporting events hosted in such countries as Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
More details regarding the agreement and next edition of the event will be unveiled on April 25 during a press conference addressing the 2020 rally.