Sulayem praises ATCUAE team, volunteers as desert rally outperforms rounds in Russia, Italy, Qatar, Egypt, Spain, Poland, Morocco, Portugal

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 4 March, 2015: The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge POWERED BY Nissan, which celebrates its 25th anniversary edition later this month, is the top Cross Country Rally in the FIA World Cup– and that’s official.

The Desert Challenge came out on top in official reports submitted to the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body, by the observers appointed to assess each of the rallies in the 2014 World Cup series.

Nani Roma in action during the 2014 Abu Dhabi Desert challenge.

The announcement has immediately been hailed as another landmark achievement for UAE sport by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Bin Mubarak Al Nahayan, the UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

“The Desert Challenge carries a positive image of Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a whole to audiences around the world and is a great advertisement for our ability in the Emirates to stage international sporting events of the highest calibre,” said Sheikh Nahayan.

“It is gratifying that the event should now receive official recognition as the top Cross Country Rally in the FIA World Cup, and I am confident it will continue to set the highest standards in the years ahead.”

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the rally organisers, said: “We are indebted to the government for the crucial support we have received from the start to build the Desert Challenge into the leading event in the in the World Cup series.

“I am particularly grateful to Sheikh Nahayan for his personal backing and encouragement, which is typical of the enthusiasm he has brought over the years to UAE sport.

Bike action from last year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

“The credit for recognition we have received is also shared by my very hard working team at the ATCAE, and the small army of dedicated volunteers who give up their time each year to make the event happen.”

The ratings are based on reports submitted by the FIA observers who assess each event for the overall standard of organisation, with a major emphasis on safety, the quality of special stages, the training and management of volunteers, and efforts taken to protect the environment.

Launched by Sulayem in 1991, the Desert Challenge -also part of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes - was seen by a global TV audience of 68,225,000 viewers during its 24th edition last April.

In the countdown to the 25th anniversary event from 27 March to 2 April the ATCUAE has taken some important steps to ensure the event’s continued development.

Four new overseas liaison offices have been opened to boost Desert Challenge entries from the UK and Ireland, Holland and Belgium, Russia, Ukraine and the former CIS Nations, and South Africa. And efforts to take the event into new markets have been reinforced by the appointment of GAC as official shipping agents, creating official links from the ports of Marseilles, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Durban and Genoa