Arab world's top driver urges region's classic car enthusiasts and drag racers to support new event

Dubai, UAE, 22 February, 2005: Mohammed Ben Sulayem has put his weight behind next month's Rally Al Khaleej which he believes will add an important and exciting new dimension to the Middle East motor sport calendar.

The Arab world's leading motor sport figure is encouraging classic car enthusiasts as well as drag racers from across the region to support the Siemens-sponsored event which he believes is destined to become a major annual attraction.

The 1,200-km Rally Al Khaleej will see some of the world's most celebrated classic cars competing in a series of special stages and speed tests over the length and breadth of the UAE between March 14-25.

Among the special events in the 11-day competitive programme is a US-style quarter- mile drag race in Al Ain as part of a two-day car festival in the UAE's oasis town on March 17-18. This also features an 11-km hill climb up Jebel Hafeet, the country's highest mountain.

Sulayem, chief organiser and driving force behind the UAE Desert Challenge, the top event in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, says the Rally Al Khaleej plugs a gap in regional motor sport and also has positive safe driving implications.

"We already have Formula One, conventional rallying, cross country rallying for cars, bikes and trucks and quite a few varieties of each, and it's good to see a new event being launched for classic cars," said the 14-times Middle East rally champion. Sulayem 2 "The decision to include a drag racing element will create extra excitement and provide another outlet for youngsters with a passion for fast cars. They need to be shown that there is a time and a place for racing which should be safely and properly organised."

Taking place under the patronage of Lt-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's Minister of Interior, the Rally Al Khaleej is organised by Abu Dhabi- based ARGER Event and Conference Management.

Sulayem, winner of more international rallies and championships than any other driver, is assisting the organisers in an advisory capacity and has accepted their invitation to start the drag racing in Al Ain on March 17. All motorsport and tuning enthusiasts can compete, and vehicles of any age and make are eligible to take part in a variety of categories.

The rally will feature around 40 classic car drivers from the Gulf, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Austria, Jordan, Lebanon, and South Africa. Enthusiasts can tackle the entire rally, or one or more of its special events, and details can be found on the official website at www.rally-al-

The rally programme was fined tuned earlier this week at a meeting of the Rally Steering Committee at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, venue for the Gala Dinner and prize giving on March 26. The committee is made up of representatives from the UAE Ministry of Interior, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, the Emirates Motor Sports Federation, the Automobile & Touring Club for the UAE and Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Muncipalities.

The classic cars assemble in Abu Dhabi on March 14 in readiness for the start the next day with a city race on closed areas in the UAE capital. Over the next ten days the rally takes the cars on a trail across the UAE, passing through Liwa, Al Ain, Fujairah, Hatta and Dubai. A Vintage Grand Prix takes place at Dubai Autodrome on March 23-24. Captions: 1. Mohammed Ben Sulayem - encouraging classic car enthusiasts as well as drag racers from across the region to support the Rally Al Khaleej