Government and Armed Forces to support UAE event

UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge
2003 FIA and FIM World Cups, final round

For immediate release
Sunday, September 14th, 2003


Ben Sulayem set to welcome large multi-national entry

DUBAI (UAE): The UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge, the final round of both the FIA and FIM World Cups for Cross Country Rallies, will run with the full support of both the UAE Government and UAE Armed Forces.

The five-day event starts with a Prologue, near Dubai, on Monday, October 20th and is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence.

Putting on an event of this scale is no mean feat and a large team of volunteer officials and marshals will receive backing from many levels of UAE Government.

~The UAE Desert Challenge began as a club event for 4x4 motorsport enthusiasts in 1991,~ said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, chairman of the organising committee. ~Then I had the idea of taking this a stage further and the inaugural UAE Desert Challenge was accepted into the FIA World Cup in 1993. We have been the final round of this global series ever since.

~Motorcycles are also an integral part of the cross-country rallying scene and I was keen to attract motorcyclists to the Desert Challenge. In 1995 we were sanctioned by the FIM - the governing body of motorcycle sport - for the first time and bikes have become an important addition to the event for the last nine years.

~Over this period we have welcomed many top names from world motorsport to compete across the sands of the UAE. Several of them have become good personal friends and I look forward to welcoming some of them again this year.

~Running this event would not be possible without the co-operation and support of the UAE Government and UAE Armed Forces and our organising committee welcome this valued assistance. This year's rally promises to be a truly international spectacle. We have received entries from all corners of the globe from both amateur and professional teams.~

Enquiries are still flooding in to the rally office in Dubai and event officials are expecting to welcome competitors and media representatives from several GCC countries, Portugal, France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Hungary, Russia and Chile.

Over the last week rally officials have been carrying out final checks of this year's route, which is again set to cross the remotest areas of the UAE. Four special stages are planned in the UAE deserts, with the opening section on October 21st crossing the Monassir Plateau from Abu Dhabi to Liwa, through the Baniyas tribal region - the ancestral roots of Abu Dhabi's Al-Nahyan family.

After two stages through the Western and Eastern regions of the renowned Empty Quarter or Rub Al-Khali on October 22nd and 23rd, the final stage heads from Liwa to a finish near Dubai on October 24th.

~It is important that we check and double check the accuracy of the road book and keep up to speed with any changes in the terrain caused by shifting sand and desert winds,~ said Rally Director John Spiller. ~It is amazing how quickly terrain can change in a desert environment.~


For further information about this year's event, contact the Marlboro UAE Desert Challenge office, PO Box 1714, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: + 971 4 2669922 Fax: + 971 4 2666996 or E-mail: rallyuae@emirates.net.ae

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge press officer, Tel: + (44) 1952 825078, Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, Tel: + 44 7831 123153
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com

Date issued: 14/09/2003

For further information or assistance please contact:

NDP Publicity Services
Holly House, Station Road, Newport,
Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
Mobile: + 44 (0) 7831 123153 (UK)

Email: ndppublicity@googlemail.com

Web: www.ndp-publicity.com

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