Next year, Saudi Arabia will become the 33rd country to stage a Formula 1 Grand Prix with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix confirmed for November.
The race will be held on a yet-to-be-built street circuit around the nation’s second-largest city by population of Jeddah.
The event will be under the blanket of darkness, joining Bahrain and Singapore as the calendar’s newest night race.
It also becomes just the third race in the Middle East after Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
“We are excited to welcome Saudi Arabia to Formula 1 for the 2021 season and welcome their announcement following speculation in recent days,” said F1 chairman 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 per cent of the population of Saudi being under 30 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 Motor Sport Council for approval.”
A permanent circuit is slated to be built in time for 2023 which will then become Saudi Arabia’s new home of F1.
Saudi Arabia has connections with F1 that stretch back to 1978, when the airline Saudia sponsored Williams, alongside a few other Saudi businesses.
The investment proved a significant event in the team’s history, with the ‘Fly Saudia’ branded team winning their first world championships in 1980 with Australian racer Alan Jones.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia hosted a round of the Formula E world championship and its first-ever Dakar Rally.
However, the Grand Prix has received some backlash by human rights activist who believes the event is another ploy by the country’s government to ‘sportwash’ its population and have the world turn a blind eye to its human right crisis.
“In the lead-up to a race in Jeddah, we would urge all F1 drivers, owners and teams to consider speaking out about the human rights situation in the country, including by expressing solidarity with jailed human rights defenders,” said Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns, Felix Jakens.
Saudi Arabia is set to form a record 23-long race schedule which will likely kick off with the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in March.