Saudi Arabia is to join the F1 schedule next year, when a night race will be held in November on the streets of Jeddah.
The race will start and finish on the corniche, which runs along the banks of the Red Sea, providing a stunning coastal backdrop for a full weekend of live motorsport, entertainment and culture that will take over the second biggest city in Saudi Arabia.
Following recent speculation in the media, the race is confirmed to be the first year of a long-term partnership between Formula 1 and the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and strengthens the ever-growing Saudi Arabian international sports calendar as part of the country's ambitious Vision 2030 programme to help inspire its people through sport.
"Saudi Arabia is accelerating forward and the speed, energy, excitement of Formula 1 perfectly reflects the transformational journey the country is on," said His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, the Minister of Sport. "As we've witnessed in recent years our people want to be at the very heart of the biggest moments in live sport and entertainment. And they don't come any bigger than Formula 1. No matter where in the world it's held, Formula 1 is an event that brings people together to celebrate an occasion that goes far beyond sport. We look forward to sharing this unique experience and sharing Jeddah with the world. For many Saudis this will be a dream come true.
"Sport is one area driving a massive transformation of the country through Vision 2030," he continued, "and we are making incredible progress in inspiring our communities to get involved. Community participation underpins all our major events and in simple terms more people are taking part in more sports than ever before whether young or old, boys or girls. Looking ahead and thanks to the support of the Quality of Life initiative, Formula 1 is another chance for us to drive forward these positive developments across the community and provide even more opportunities to enrich lives and embrace new experiences together."
The international schedule of events now hosted in Saudi includes; FIA Formula E, Dakar Rally, Extreme E, Spanish Super Cup, Italian Super Cup, European Tour and Ladies European Tour golf, WWE, international tennis, FEI equestrian championships and the Saudi Cup, the world's richest horse race. In 2019, the country hosted Anthony Joshua's 'Clash on the Dunes' world heavyweight boxing title fight with Andy Ruiz Jr. Saudi Arabia is also currently bidding for the Asian Games 2030 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 as it continues to open up to global opportunities.
Motorsport is already the second most popular sport in Saudi Arabia, only behind football and the nation boasts a long association with Formula 1; from local companies supporting the Williams racing team in the late 1970s, through to the existing global partnership with Aramco.
"Today is groundbreaking in every sense," added His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. "I firmly believe the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the biggest sports event hosted in our country's history and has the potential to change lives, perceptions and reach new audiences and communities like never before. To have the icons of the sport and historic teams race in Saudi in front of young fans and families is truly game-changing.
"We have a rich motorsport heritage but in a short space of time as a federation we've earned a strong reputation of delivering world-class international events such as Formula E and the Dakar Rally. As a result, Saudi Arabia is home to literally millions of passionate young fans of motorsport. Many of whom will already be smiling and counting down to seeing their heroes in November 2021. Our plans will see us take the sport to even more people with a celebration that reaches all communities and is open to all."
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is promoted by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and supported by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Sport and Quality of Life Initiative under the Vision 2030 programme. Further details on the date, location and Jeddah street circuit layout will be revealed in due course alongside ticket information.
"We are excited to welcome Saudi Arabia to Formula 1 for the 2021 season and welcome their announcement following speculation in recent days," said Chase Carey. "Saudi Arabia is a country that is rapidly becoming a hub for sports and entertainment with many major events taking place there in recent years and we are very pleased that Formula 1 will be racing there from next season. The region is hugely important to us and with 70% of the population of Saudi being under thirty we are excited about the potential to reach new fans and bring our existing fans around the world exciting racing from an incredible and historic location. We will be publishing our full provisional 2021 calendar in the coming weeks and this will be submitted to the World Motorsport Council for approval."