The legendary UAE Desert Challenge, one of the world’s most prestigious international cross country rallies founded by Emirati Motorsport legend and EMSO President Mohammed Ben Sulayem back in 1991, and over the years has seen many of the biggest names in international motorsport tackle the dunes of the UAE, including Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae, Ari Vatenan, and Heinz Kinigadner. Following his victory in 2015, Marc Coma currently holds the record of eight ADDC titles, winning all but two rallies between 2006 and his retirement in 2015.
The event entered a new era in March 2009 when it was renamed the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with the five-day motor sport spectacular being staged in its entirety across Abu Dhabi emirate under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Government, with the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO) retaining its event organizational role.
Having celebrated its 29th event in 2019, the 2020 event returns bigger and better as the opening round of the 2020 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship and the second round of the 2020 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, continuing its role as one of Abu Dhabi’s most historic sporting events.
While previous Desert Challenges have seen motorbike, quad-bike, four wheel and truck competitors battle cross-emirate stages, the event in recent years has gradually migrated towards a majority routing through Abu Dhabi’s majestic desert areas.
During the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, competitors face two days of documentation and scrutineering on Friday and Saturday, before a Ceremonial Start on Saturday. The rally then begins, first thing Sunday morning when the competitors leave the initial Rally HQ at the famous Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to begin five days in the Liwa Desert of the Empty Quarter.