iran can build its own desert challenge, says sulayem
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who created the Middle East’s first World Championship motor sport event, believes Iran’s own version of the UAE Desert Challenge could be built into a top-class international cross country rally.
Sulayem, President of the Emirates Automobile and Touring Club, is in Tehran for official talks aimed at reinforcing links between the UAE and the Islamic Republic in motor sport and tourism.
Backed by an EATC team, he is observing and supporting a round of Iran’s national rally championship, as well as a cross country rally which the Desert Challenge founder feels has what it takes to become an international success.
“Iran has some great terrain for cross country rallying, and from what I’ve seen so far this rally has all the ingredients needed to become a successful international event ,” said Sulayem, the first UAE motor sport official to be invited for talks in Iran.
Sulayem has been in meetings with Ali Abadi, Vice President of Iran, Head of Sport, and Rasheem Mashaii, Vice President of Iran, Head of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, along with Ahmad Ghalebani, President of the Motorcyle and Automobile Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran
He also flagged off a national championship event today, and later accepted an invitation to get behind the wheel of an Iranian rally car on a special stage to demonstrate the skills which took him to 14 Middle East Championship titles.
“We’re here to offer our Iranian neighbours the benefit of our many years of experience in staging international events,” he said. “We want to work with them to help develop motor sport in Iran and build links between our two countries so that drivers and riders from the UAE and Iran could soon be competing against each other in various events.
“This can only be good for the sport in the region. Iran has so much to offer and wants to be part of the international motor sport scene in the future.”
Talks between Sulayem and Iranian officials have already brought a pledge on the lifting of a restriction faced by motoring tourists travelling from the UAE to the Islamic Republic.
It will end the one-month limit on visits to Iran by UAE travellers who gain entry for their vehicles with official trips tickets issued exclusively in the UAE by the EATC.
“This is the first step towards developing stronger tourism links between our two countries, and we’re looking forward to working with the Iranian authorities to build on the start we’ve made together,” said Sulayem.
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