Saudi Arabia to host maiden F1 Grand Prix, however human rights abuses overshadow nation’s international sporting ambitions

Saudi Arabia to host maiden F1 Grand Prix, but human rights abuses overshadow country's global sporting ambitions


Taking place under floodlights, drivers will encounter a circuit over six kilometers in length, which runs through the city’s scenic waterfront, featuring 27 corners and an average speed of about 252 km/h. At 50 laps, the race distance will measure about 309 km (192 miles), the website says.

“Formula One has a very big fan base in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The maiden Saudi Arabian GP is one of a handful of F1 races located in the Persian Gulf, alongside Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

“[We] don’t fear that we will be competing with other countries in the region,” Al Faisal said. “We see it as we all complete each other.”

‘Sportswashing’

But as Saudi Arabia emerges as a powerful stakeholder in global sport, the country’s human rights record is being criticized.

In 2020, after the Saudi Arabian-backed consortium Public Investment Fund made a bid, with two other parties, to purchase English Premier League football club Newcastle United, activists accused the kingdom of “sportswashing” — a…