Chairman of Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal declared on Monday that the 2020 Dakar Rally, to be hosted by the Kingdom for the first time, will help showcase the austere kingdom's tourism potential.
"With the launch of the Dakar Rally here in the Kingdom, the world will see the picturesque nature of our country and its wonderful desert," he told reporters in Qiddiya, close to the capital Riyadh.
"The world will come closer than ever to the people of the hospitable Kingdom (that is) looking forward to welcoming the world."
The 2020 Dakar will set off from Jeddah on January 5 and end 7,800 kilometers (4,800 miles) and 12 days later in Qiddiya.
The race, involving more than 550 drivers from around the world, will pass through a host of sites -- from NEOM, a $500 billion futuristic megacity under construction, to the heritage site of Al-Ula and the sand dunes of the vast Empty Quarter desert.
The Dakar started its history as a rally between Paris and the capital of Senegal in West Africa, then switched to South America when security became a concern. Organizers say it will remain in the Arabian peninsula for at least five years.