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Press Release


20 November, 2011

Rally with National Day tradition was starting point for nation’s climb up motor sport ladder to F1 


The 33rd Dubai International Rally, final round of the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, will be staged on UAE National Day weekend under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority.

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the UAE and given the full support of the Dubai Ruler’s Court, one of the region’s longest running international events will add another chapter to the nation’s sporting history by giving a big climax to the FIA regional series from December 1-3.

Enjoying its traditional National Day position on the sporting calendar, the Dubai International Rally has, over the years, provided many classic and memorable battles between the Middle East’s top drivers, and has special significance as the UAE reaches another milestone.

It was the first annual sporting event staged in the Emirates to capture international attention. It can also be seen as the starting point for today’s multi-discipline year-round motor sport calendar, headlined by the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is controlled by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) on behalf of the FIA, the world governing body.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem

“The Dubai Rally certainly has a permanent place in my heart, and that’s the same for so many others who have competed in it, watched it, and supported in one way or another over the last four decades,” said FIA Vice President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE.

“It really is where recognised motor sport started here. It has held its place in the calendar thanks to the consistent backing and encouragement of the Government of Dubai, and the efforts of so many others working behind the scenes, including the marshals, who are the unsung heroes of the Dubai Rally.”

During his record-breaking rally driving career which brought him 14 FIA Middle East titles, Sulayem won the Dubai Rally 15 times. He lost it once when his car’s engine blew, and the uncertainties of rallying mean that Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah can take nothing for granted this time.

While the Qatari holds a commanding 21-point lead in the 2011 FIA Middle East championship with five of six rounds completed, and is the red hot favourite to win in Dubai for a seventh time, two UAE drivers are waiting to capitalise on any mistakes or misfortunes which could block his path to a seventh Middle East title.

Lying second and third in the series and separated by a single point, Rashid Al Ketbi and Sheikh Abdulla Al Qassimi both have a mathematical chance of winning the FIA regional championship, and will each be savouring the thought of a home victory to crown a memorable 40th UAE National Day weekend.


Few know better than Al Attiyah how cruel this sport can be. He suffered a series of heartaches in the Dakar Rally in recent years before eventually coming through to win it for the first time last January.

For a second year, the rally is based at Dubai Men’s College, in the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) campus in Academic City, Dubai. Scrutineering takes place between 8am-12.30pm on Thursday, December 1 at the new ATCUAE Technical Centre in Al Nahda. The rally’s ceremonial start takes place at 7.30pm the same day on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

The rally action begins in earnest at 9am the following day from HCT, and after 12special stages in a route totalling 802-km, the event finishes at 4.30pm on Saturday December 3 back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship standings after five rounds:

FIA Middle East Championship final standings  
1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) 100 pts
2. Rashid Al Ketbi (UAE) 79 pts
3. Shk Abdulla Al Qassimi (UAE) 78 pts
4. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT) 54 pts
5. Essam Al Nejadi (KWT) 27pts
6. Michel Saleh (LBN) 23pts
7. Meshal Al Nejadi (KWT) 22pts
8. Ammar Hijazi (JOR) 20pts
9. Mazen Tantash (JOR) 20pts
10. Nancy Al Majali (JOR) 14pts
11. Fahad Ashknani (KWT) 08pts
12. Mshari Al Thefiri (KWT) 02pts

* Table shows points scored for previous rounds in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Cyprus and Lebanon.