FIA President, Jean Todt, and Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA Vice-President for motor sport, have just completed a visit to Syria, where they were welcomed by Walid Shaban, President of the Syrian Automobile Club (SAC). It marked the first time that such a high-ranking member of the FIA has ever visited the country.Syrian Minister of Tourism Dr. Sa'adallah Agha Al Qal'a also received Todt and Ben Sulayem, where they discussed venues of cooperation between the Syrian Ministry and the FIA, including joint motor sport projects.The Syrian minister expressed his country's readiness to provide all facilities and full support to any plans by the FIA to carry out such projects in Syria.Present at the meeting was the UAE Ambassador to Syria Eissa Al Qattam Al Za'abi.Ben Sulayem lauded the progress made by Syria in motor sports in recent years.Todt, who visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the build up to the Bahrain Grand Prix last month and was also a guest of Jordan Motorsport at the recent Jordan Rally, was shown facilities and plans put in place by the SAC to further cement Syria on the world motor sporting map.
“Jean Todt visited Syria to see for himself the SAC activities in motor sport and mobility,” said Shaban. “He also visited the facilities we have for motor sport in Syria.”The FIA President was taken from Damascus to visit the Zaman Alkhair karting facility and was also introduced to members of the Syrian Rally Team. Todt and Ben Sulayem also embarked upon a tour of the old city of Damascus with Walid Shaban and other members of the group.The official party then headed into the hills to the north-east of Damascus to visit the stunning mountain village of Saydnaya, the official base for the Syrian International Rally. Todt was shown around the SAC’s new karting facility and visited the Alsaydeh monastery on the hills overlooking the Bekaa Valley and surrounding valleys.Todt lunched with the Syrian Minister of Tourism and returned to Damascus to visit the offices of the SAC, where he discussed new motor sport projects - including the concept of an exciting new cross-country-type event - with SAC motor sport officials, including Hani Shaban, clerk of the course of the Syrian International Rally and organiser of the Discover Syria event.