Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, a motorsport sensation


The sensational Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is amongst the globe’s most renowned and esteemed cross country motorsport rallies. Formerly known as the UAE Desert Challenge, which was acclaimed as one of the world’s premier rallies, it was given its current name when the five-day motorsport extravaganza was restructured so that it would be conducted entirely in the emirate of Abu Dhabi under the control of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. It is still managed by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.

The spectacular sight of the four wheel drive vehicles, trucks, motorcycles and quad bikes braving the desert terrain with their power and speed is a sight that will fire the imagination of every automobile enthusiast. These mighty vehicles will brave the elements just as they did in the past, except that they will feature solely in Abu Dhabi’s magnificent desert landscape.

To participate in the competition contestants must go through two days in which documentation and inspections will be completed. Next a Super Special Stage is conducted, usually on a Sunday which finalizes the starting order for the main event. The sensational rally then takes place, with the competitors taking on the challenge of negotiating the Liwa Desert and the Empty Quarter’s Moreeb area over five action-packed days.

In the past the Desert Challenge was the season ending event for the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship and the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, but it is now the season opener for these series. In the course of time it is thought that the Challenge will consolidate Abu Dhabi’s standing as a significant destination for tourism and a hub for sporting events.

The Challenge is the brainchild of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, 14 time winner of the Middle East Rally Championship. He remains the Organizing Chairman of the event in addition to holding high posts in motorsports bodies. Under Ben Sulayem’s able guidance the spectacular Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is set to achieve still greater heights, placing the emirate firmly on the list of the world’s best motorsports destinations.

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