Saudi Arabia has been on the Formula E calendar since 2018 and holds races at the Riyadh Street Circuit – named in honor of the country’s capital, which borders Diriyah.
Since then, Formula 1 has had its own Saudi race on the streets of Jeddah, with races in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
Boutagy, CEO and founder of promotional firm CBX, says interest in Formula E is growing in the region – especially as many of the area’s oil companies and investment funds plan to diversify their holdings in line with global interests for more sustainable forms of propulsion.
When asked by Autosport if more countries in the Middle East would be open to hosting Formula E races, Boutagy says adding more races would be key to expanding media presence in the area .
“I think the more motorsport there is in the region, the better it is for all of us, whether it’s F1 or WEC or Dakar or Formula E. I think this region could host one or two more Formula E races ,” he said.
“We also have Extreme E, which is cool. I think the more the merrier. It educates people, people get used to it instead of waiting all year, forgetting about it and not realizing what happened.
“The more it’s in your neck of the woods, the more you’re going to pay attention to it and it’s going to be in the media and the news. It’s cool. I think it’s better. It educates the people.
“In the past decade, motorsport in the Middle East has grown enormously.”
Diriyah is one of several projects in Saudi Arabia receiving funding for its growth, supported by the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the At-Turaif District.
These projects also include the Qiddiya ‘mega project’, which will include a race track planned for future races in F1 and MotoGP, along with smart city Neom who has links to the McLaren Formula E team.
A view of the pit lane
Photo by: Sam Bagnall/Motorsport Images
Asked if the Saudi Arabian Formula E races could potentially move to one of these venues, or even hold extra rounds, Boutagy says he is open to either outcome – but would like to see the races in Diriyah on the account remain.
“I’m up for a challenge. But yeah, I wish it would stay. Like I said, it’s a really big development site. At some point, every year they come and open the track, close the track back, they build a lot there.
“It’s a huge, huge project. It’s one of the giant projects and I think it will be one of the first to be completed for Vision 2030.
“The original plan when we signed was to show Saudi for three years, something like that. But now they have Formula 1 in Jeddah, they have the Dakar that takes you everywhere.
“I’m happy to stay, I’m happy to move. I’m happy either way. It would be cool. I don’t know, we’ll see.
“There will be MotoGP in Qiddiya on the track that will be built, and WRC. They have everything.
“In fact, I think they’ll probably get NASCAR! They want to go, I hear they want to go international too. We’ll see.”