FIA President Max Mosley has compared the Middle East with Italy for its love of motor sport, and he says Mohammed Ben Sulayem is the right man to drive the sport forward in the UAE.
Mosley has warmly welcomed Sulayem’s appointment as President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, the organisation which represents motor sport’s world governing body in the Emirates.
Sulayem, who has won more FIA championships and international rallies than any other driver, recently took up his new ATCUAE role with the backing of its patron, H.H.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Mosley, who has known the 14-times FIA Middle East rally champion for much of his career, is confident that Sulayem will guide motor sport to a bright new future in the UAE and that the Middle East as a whole can build on its success to date.
During an interview with Al Jazeera TV, he said: “Arabs are known for their love of motor sport, particularly rallying. The Middle East Championship is well established and very successful.
“I would compare the Arab states with Italy which is known for its love of cars and motor sports in general. This is a natural place for motor sports to grow, especially when you take into account the natural terrain which is good for rally tracks.”Mosley 2
Added Mosley: “My friend, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, is a great champion, and he is now President of the ATCUAE. This means that the right people are taking on the right roles, and taking the lead in this sport.”
The ATCUAE, which was established in 1965, is the officially nominated representative in the Emirates of both the FIA and its motor cycling counterpart, the FIM. On their behalf it supervises all organised motor sport events in the UAE for cars and bikes, including rallying, karting, drag racing, hill climbs and a variety of motor bike activities such as moto cross. It will also have overall responsibility for circuit racing.
The next major priority for Sulayem is the UAE Desert Challenge, final round of both the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship, taking place from 4-10 November. “That may seem quite a long way off, but organising the Desert Challenge is a year-round job and there’s a huge amount of work to be done before the drivers and riders start arriving from around the world,” he said.
The ATCUAE is also preparing for two rounds of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, the Dubai International Rally which concludes the 2006 regional series in December, and the UAE International Rally which launches the 2007 calendar in Al Ain a month later.
The Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE has been an affiliated member of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of all motor sports, since 1965.The ATCUAE is the only organisation which is authorised by the FIA to supervise motor sport events and issue competitor licences in the UAE. It is also the only FIA authorised organisation in the UAE to issue International Driving Licences, as well as Carnet de Passage en Douane (Trip Tickets) and International Certificates which simplify customs formalities for motoring tourists and travellers.The ATCUAE, which has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain, has been an affiliated member of Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) since 1973. The AIT is the leading and most successful international body concerned with motoring, touring road assistance services and outdoor leisure.