The First Middle East and North African development workshop in Beirut bringing together National Sporting Authorities (ASNs) from across the region

Wed 21st Sept, Beirut – Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Vice-President of the FIA and President of the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE, today chaired the first ever meeting comprising both Middle Eastern and North African Motorsport National Sporting Authorities (ASNs). The meeting in Beirut marked the first steps in the creation of a new Middle East and North Africa (MENA) zone for the FIA, the governing body of world motorsport. The Middle Eastern associations were delighted to welcome the Arabic speaking nations from North Africa into their region, and Ben Sulayem will now seek to have this move ratified when he attends the FIA World Council meeting in Singapore this Friday.

Ben Sulayem was quoted as saying on the move to incorporate the North African clubs into the new zone, “I believe this is a great step for regional motorsport, as the new MENA zone will now have twenty ASNs under its jurisdiction. It is with great pride that I can represent this new zone on the global stage.”

Important advances were also made during the meeting to launch a Middle East Medical Association for Motorsport. Dr Sean Petherbridge, Chief Medical Officer for the ATCUAE and the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, spoke passionately about the need for all associations across the region to work together to train medical personnel, race officials and competitors in the procedures that will allow the sport to operate in a safe environment. The proposal was agreed with a unanimous decision and will now be put into action.

The meeting also discussed the possibility of establishing of a MENA Drag Racing Championship and a MENA karting championship.

HRH Prince Sultan Bin Bandar Al-Faisal, President of the Saudi Arabian Motorsports Federation will lead the MENA karting working group and said of the proposals;

“The best thing about these meetings, is that it gives everyone an opportunity to realise how strong motorsport really is in the region. We have excellent facilities for karting, drag, and circuit racing, and we are building even more, and, crucially, we have such high interest and participation in these sports.” The proposed championships would make use of the facilities across the region and will come under the jurisdiction of the FIA.

The meeting in Beirut coincided with the Lebanese round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, and the meeting saw further possibilities for the popular series. Both the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) and the Motorcycle and Automobile Federation of the Iranian Republic (MAFIRI) announced their intentions to host rounds in the near future.

FIA Institute urges MENA applications to tap into Euro 6.4 million fund at annual development workshop focusing on grass roots initiatives

The workshop was the last in a series of similar meetings designed to promote the  ‘ Motor Sport Safety Development Fund’  across various regions of the world ahead of 2012 application deadlines which will involve the distribution of a Euro 6.4 million in grant aid.  The Workshop was held alongside the meeting of the Middle East and North African (MENA) ASNs and was hosted by FIA-Vice President, and Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem and was attending by representatives from 22 Countries.

The morning session of the workshop featured presentations from ASNs from across the region on their experiences of engaging with the Fund, in particular in relation to the Officials and Young Driver Programmes, as well as with the selection of candidates to the Young Driver Excellence Academy. ATCUAE Chief Executive Mahir Badri was among the speakers and presented on the ATCUAE’s highly successful UAE Motorsport Star programme and Mr. Hani Shaban who presented the Syrian officials safety training case study.

The afternoon session was dedicated to reviewing ASN draft proposals to the Fund, with a team from the Institute offering advice and feedback for use by ASNs ahead of the deadline for funding applications on 30 September. Mohammed Ben Sulayem FIA Vice President said:

“The workshop has provided ASNs with a great opportunity to understand the benefits of additional support for their projects from the Fund.  I urge them to grab this great opportunity.”

Richard Woods, FIA Institute Director General said: “We were pleased to complete our global series of regional workshops with North Africa and the Middle East.  ASNs from the region are prime candidates for development projects, and I hope that through today’s workshop we have been able to assist ASNs to ensure they put forward strong projects.”

Jacques Salah on behalf of the ATCL added ‘’ “It was a great honor for us to host the Institute Workshop. From an ASN point of view the opportunities offered by the Fund are significant, and we are looking forward to exploiting them during this funding round.”