The Dubai Baja returns
The Dubai Baja returns Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Dubai International Baja will enter the record books this weekend as the first FIA World Cup cross-country event to be run on solar power.

As the result of a new partnership between the Emirates Motorsports Organisation and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the rally will be based at DEWA’s Innovation Centre located at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park from February 18-20.

“DEWA supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 that was launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and aims to diversify the energy mix and to provide 75 per cent of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050,” Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of DEWA, said.

“We are glad to support the first FIA World Cup cross-country event to be run on solar power at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The Innovation Centre is a global hub for renewable and clean energy innovation that is expected to contribute to shaping the future of sustainable energy in Dubai and externally.

“Our cooperation with the Emirates Motorsports Organisation and the International Automobile Federation comes in line with our ongoing efforts to enhance Dubai’s position as an international pioneer in developing the clean and renewable energy sector, and in finding alternative solutions to conventional energy. This supports the sustainable development of the Emirate,” he added.

EMSO President Mohammad Bin Sulayem, who is also the FIA Vice President for Sport, was pleased with this latest development for this weekend’s event. “The use of this facility means that electrical power provided to Rally HQ and the Service Park to run the event is generated from sustainable solar power,” he noted.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of the Government of Dubai for our sport, and its leadership in sustainability. We’re setting an important trend, and hope other motorsport events in the region and overseas will follow,” Bin Sulayem hoped.

Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, the Dubai International Baja is sponsored by Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and Arabian Automobiles Nissan.

Partnered by German co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz in an Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 3008 DKR, the UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi has set his sights on victory in the second round of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas after finishing runner-up in 2017 and 2019.

The winners of the bikes title for the first three editions of the event, UAE-based South Africans Aaron Mare and Mark Ackerman, along with Emirati Mohammad Al Balooshi, are among the contenders again in the opening round of this year’s FIM Bajas World Cup.

The EMSO’s new partnership with DEWA is a big step forward for the national motorsport authority (ASN) as an organisation committed to sustainable development of the sport.

In 2015, it became only the third ASN in the world, and first in the Middle East, to receive the highest official recognition available for sustainable development initiatives in line with environmental goals of the FIA, motorsport’s governing body.

The EMSO has since increased efforts to minimise waste, promote recycling and use of recycled materials, and use resources more efficiently to reduce consumption at events like the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.