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Adventure travel in Saudi Arabia: Best things to do and places to visit following the Dakar Rally

Adventure travel in Saudi Arabia: Best things to do and places to visit following the Dakar Rally

I’ve been following the Dakar for as long as I can remember. With a background in motorcycle riding, I even dreamed that maybe one day I might be lucky enough to participate. For me, the true spirit of the Dakar is the modern-day embodiment of adventure. Exotic landscapes, alien cultures and a real risk to life and limb; it appears the antipathy of modern life. While I refuse to let that glimmer of hope from deep down inside extinguish, visiting the Dakar in Saudi Arabia has to be the next best thing.

It’s considered to be the ultimate endurance test of human and machine: racing motorcycles, ATVs, buggies, cars and even trucks for two weeks across some of the wildest terrain the world has on offer. Originally the Paris to Dakar Rally, the Dakar was moved to South America in 2009, where it spent 10 years, before migrating back east to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

While I would have gladly visited the Dakar wherever it was being held, the fact that it is in Saudi Arabia, a country just opening its arms to western travellers, was even more reason to jump at the opportunity.

The Dakar Rally bivouac on the outskirts of Ha’il

(Campbell Price)

Saudi has been off the radar of all but the most intrepid travellers until recently. Even though tourism visas were started in 2019, just in time for the global shutdown of travel, the foreign tourism industry in Saudi Arabia is still nascent – but it seems that is about to change.

Everywhere you look lately, from the Neom project to the Saudi Green Initiative, and even the World Cup, Saudi Arabia is aggressively pushing itself into the consciousness of global citizens.

For a country just starting to look beyond the Arab world, signing the Dakar was a wily early move, attracting some of the most adventurous souls across the globe.

Much like what the Tour De France does in inspiring wanderlust for the landscapes of France (and even Europe more broadly), the pictures of the Dakar Rally that are streamed around the world offer a window into the previously hidden treasures of Arabia. Securing rounds of Formula 1, Formula E and then the ultimate coupe of the recent signing of Ronaldo, have all been masterstrokes in building awareness of Saudi Arabia more broadly.

Experiencing the Dakar is an incredible experience but it’s still very difficult to do so without being involved in the rally itself….

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…