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Currency: SAR
Timezone: UTC+3
Language: Arabic
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Closest Airport: RUH

The 2019/2020 ABB FIA Formula E season kicks off in Saudi Arabia for the second year in succession in the historical town of Ad Diriyah, located on the outskirts of the Kingdom’s capital city, Riyadh.

VISA UPDATE: As Saudi Arabia opens up to the global tourism market, a new e-Visa program was launched in October 2019. Citizens of 49 countries are now eligible for an evisa or visa on arrival at a cost of 440 SAR ($117 USD). More info here.

As the original home to the Saudi royal family, Ad Diriyah is also a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s steeped in cultural history. But even more recently, the ancient town made modern-day history as the first venue where Formula E’s Gen 2 cars made their racing debut.

The 2.496 km temporary street circuit offers 21 turns that already has a reputation for being one of the most challenging tracks in the all-electric championship. The track features plenty of undulating areas and narrow sections while, the dusty conditions of the Arabian desert also adds an extra challenge for the teams and drivers.

The new Attack Mode also made its debut on this circuit with the activation zone located on the long straight between turns 17 and 18. BMW i Andretti’s Antonio Felix da Costa was crowned the first ever race winner, while Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer posted the fastest lap time at 1:12.591.

ABB FIA Formula E’s official support series, the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy also took place on the same circuit during the Formula E race weekend and will be a regular pre-race fixture during most of the rounds in season 5. Ad Diriyah also the venue for the 2018/19 first in-season test a day after the race featuring a line-up of prominent drivers.

Although the decision to host a Formula E race in Saudi Arabia was met with controversy when it was first announced, the Kingdom has agreed on a ten-year deal with to host a round of the championship in the country. The deal was secured under Saudi Arabia’s 2030 plan that aims to boost the Kingdom’s status in aspects such as sports and tourism.

The Riyadh Street Circuit is only used once per year for Formula E. The 2019 Ad Diriyah E-Prix is the first race of the new season and features two races on November 22-23, 2019.

How to get to the Saudi capital and the Riyadh Street Circuit

  • Riyadh is served by King Khalid International Airport (RUH), which has connections to all corners of the globe, including the USA, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It’s a major hub for the Saudi flag carrier Saudia and budget airline flynas. The airport is approximately 30km north of the city centre; an Uber or taxi should set you back between 40-80 SAR ($10-20 USD).
  • The Riyadh Street Circuit is located in Ad Diriyah, site of the first Saudi state and home to the largest mud-brick city in the world at the world heritage site At-Turaif. Located around 20km northwest of the city centre, the best way to get there is via taxi or ride sharing.

Map courtesy Formula E.