The first FIA Sport Regional Congress in Kuwait discusses ways to support Championships in the MENA

The first FIA Sport Regional Congress in Kuwait discusses ways to support Championships in the MENA

07.03.2015: For the second consecutive day, the activities of the First FIA Sport Regional Congress

For the second consecutive day, the activities of the First FIA Sport Regional Congress were carried out in the State of Kuwait, under the patronage of His Excellency the minister of Information and State minister for Youth Affairs and Sports,Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud,with the participation of the FIA President, Jean Todt; the FIA Vice-President, Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah; the FIA Deputy President for Sport, Graham Stoker; and the CEO of the Kuwait International Automobile Club (organizer), Essa Hamza; in addition to a great number of international automobile experts and around 70 attendees representing 19 members states from the MENA region.

As per the agenda of the second day, the participants deliberated on the FIA plan to support the MENA region and how countries can request such support as of July 2015, in addition to the budget allocated to this support. They also took part in workshops aimed at discussing ways to develop automobile clubs in the MENA region, at the technical and administrative levels.

The workshops considered as well ways to technically develop car races and championships in the region and addressed the need to ensure the safety of competitors. The organization of the Rally of Egypt, next September, was also one of the topics discussed by the attendees.

On the last day of the Congress, the participants are expected to adopt a series of decisions and recommendations pertaining to the organization of races and championships in the MENA region.

Concerning the 2015 Kuwait Rally - the second round of the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), Athbi Al-Nayef, Chairman of the Rally Commission at the Kuwaiti Club of Basel Salem Al-Sabah Sheikh, said that the preparations for the Kuwait Rally (which will kick off next Thursday, March 14, and be concluded on March 16) are ongoing, pointing to the outstanding efforts deployed by the clubs and federations in order to increase the number of participants this year.

He indicated that new stages had been introduced to the rally, adding that important information and techniques learned from the participation to Qatar Rally would be applied in Kuwait Rally this year, and hi-tech equipment would be available to guarantee a better performance, compared to previous years.

Concerning the Congress, Nayef stated that the attendance of an important number of motor sport experts and delegates was significant, especially that the Congress is expected to deal with topics related to the development of motor sport in the MENA region.

Moreover, the Rally Consultant for the MENA region Pedro Almeida expressed his pleasure to be in Kuwait, describing the Congress as a very important event for the future of motor sport in the region which has a great potential to improve this sport. Such events, he continued, help to reach thatgoal.

“The number of participating countries and the presence of FIA President Todt show the importance the FIA gives to this region. That is what we are all fighting for…to raise the level of the sport in this part of the world”, added Almeida.

Answering a question about how he was supporting the MENA region, Almeida explained: “Over the last four years, I have been the organizer of the Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally…We had the opportunity to discuss several matters in motor sport”, indicating that he was invited to participate and offer his assistance, especially on regulations which represent his field of action.

From his side, Carlos Abella, the FIA Development Department Director, declared: “We are closely following what is happening in the MENA region. We are here every year…This is the first time that the FIA holds a congress in connection with the MENA. The level of attendance is very significant and reflects the importance of motor sport in the region”.

Emphasizing the importance of this meeting, Ziad Jamous, FIA international referee and observer and newly appointed Rally Coordinator for the MENA region,said that the high level of participation to the Congresswas an evidence of its significance, especially with the establishment of working groups pertaining to different areas to work on the development of motor sport in the MENA.

“That includes rallies, as we will see new events in Egypt, Oman and Iran and cross-country races”, clarified Jamous.

He pointed out that the attendance of the FIA President JeadTodt and senior jurists of the FIA like Graham Stoker gave the participants a strong motivation to deliver on the Congress objectives and come up with efficient recommendations to induce the desired improvement in motor sport in the region.

On the other hand, Marwan Musabeh Al-Ketbi, the Clerk of Course of Qatar International Rally, Deputy Clerk of Course of Qatar Sealine Cross-country Rally and FIA member, praised the important role of this Congress in supporting the MENA clubs and federations to organize rallies and cross-country races, pointing to the added value brought to the MERC with the introduction of the round of Egypt.

According to Musabeh, cross-country races are gaining a growing attention, as they involve longer distances that could reach around 400 km in one day in Qatar compared to 120 km in the rallies, knowing that the distance of the Middle East cross-country race could stretch to 1700 km in total.

About motor sport in the Sultanate of Oman, Anwar Al-Zadjali, Advisor of the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) and Vice-Chairman of Oman Rally Championship (ORC), underscored the support provided to motor sport in the country since the early 80s.

According to Al-Zadjali, motor sport is very popular in Oman with local championships held without interruption, despite being excluded from the international calendar for certain periods of time, but these championships are strongly back to the international arena.

“The Sultanate of Oman organized the MERC 23 times and holds several races, including karting and drag races and drifting competitions, in addition to a championship organized jointly with the UAE and a number of local championships”, added Al-Zadjali.

Al-Zadjali expressed his support to the Congress held for the first time in Kuwait and his hope to have the Sultanate host it in the future, considering its significant role in drawing the MENA clubs and federations closer to one another.

From her side, the MENA Coordinator of the Women in Motorsport Commission (WIMC), Randa Nabulsi, deplored the weak participation of women in motor sport, as drivers and co-drivers, emphasizing the need to increase women’s involvement at the organizational level as well.

She pointed out to ongoing efforts aiming at encouraging women to get involved in this field and exerting pressure on clubs toensureafavorableenvironment for women’s participation in this sport.

“We have created a commission for women support in Jordan and have plans to train female competitors and organizers and hold training sessions with the same objective”, she indicated.

Finally, the Vice-President of the Syrian Automobile Club and the FIA Road Safety Coordinator in the MENA region, Hani Shaaban, focused on the work that is being done on two tracks.

The first is safety and security systems in motor sport, which includes clothing and organization matters and other requirements related to the safety of practitioners and security throughout the stages of the different races; and the second is road safety in general, including the reform of traffic laws, which is seen by the FIA as one of its social obligations.

In the same context, he pointed to a five-day training held recently in Doha, capital of Qatar. The training was intended at training school children on road safety and self-protection methods, as he explained.

 However, Shaaban regretted that the Arab countries were still lacking the adequate traffic regulations that ensure citizens’ safety in general, pointing to the absence of coordination between governments and automobile clubs and the lack of action on environment conservation.

- Neus Ramos Feliu - also photos


07.03.2015 / MaP

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