UAE, Iran launch New Drive to Boost Motor Sport and Tourism

Travel News Asia Monday, 23 April 2007

The national motor sport authorities of the UAE and Iran have formed a new working relationship aimed at reinforcing links between the two countries in sport, and tourism.

The initiative, driven by Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Automobile and Touring Club (EATC), has immediately resulted in a pledge from the Iranian Ambassador to the UAE, Dr Hamid Asefi, that a restriction on motoring tourists travelling to the Islamic Republic will be lifted.

The move could pave the way for UAE and Iranian drivers and riders to compete against each other in a wide range of national motor sport events, and ultimately see Iran host a round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Sulayem, with the personal support of FIA President Max Moseley, has accepted an official invitation to visit Iran next month to observe and support a round of Irans national rally championship along with an EATC team. 

He said that he looked forward to building a mutually beneficial long-term working partnership with the Motorcyle and Automobile Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MAFIRI) after hosting an official Iranian delegation at the weekend.

The delegation was headed by the MAFIRI President Ahmad Ghalebani, and also included its Vice President Hossein Shahriari, and Dr Saleh Kouh, President of MAFIRIS classic car department.

They were accompanied by the Iranian Ambassador to the UAE, Dr Asefi, who has been working closely with Sulayem to forge close links between the EATC and MAFIRI and give UAE motoring tourists easier access to Iran.

Like the EATC in the UAE, MAFIRI is the official national representative of both the FIA, the world motor sport governing body, and its motorcycling counterpart, the FIM.

Im very grateful to Dr Hamid for his efforts to bring us together with MAFIRI, and especially for ensuring that people from the UAE who take their vehicles to Iran will no longer be restricted to one-month stays, said Sulayem, the 14-times FIA Middle East rally champion.

We quickly developed a good understanding with Mr Ghalebani and his colleagues, and were looking forward to working together in the years ahead to promote motor sport.

I was very happy to accept Mr Ghalebanis invitation to visit Iran for the national championship rally next month, and Ill be taking a team with me to offer our support and advice on the organisation of rallies. I have more than 20 years experience in rallying and I want to share this, and the combined experience of the EATC in motor sport, with our Iranian colleagues.

Sulayem added, Max Moseley is very keen for us to support our neighbours. He is especially keen for us to assist our friends in Iran, a country with a population of 70 million and a long motor sport tradition.

The last rally there had around 90 competitors, and with that kind of enthusiasm, and some great terrain for rallying, theres tremendous potential. There has been talk in the past of Iran entering the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, and thats obviously a possibility.

For the last two years, UAE travellers taking their vehicles on visits to Iran using official trips tickets or carnies (Carnet de Passage en Douane), issued by the EATC, have been limited to one month stays.

Iranian Ambassador Dr Asefi has given Sulayem an assurance that the restriction will be officially lifted in the next two months, but only for those holding official carnies. These are issued exclusively in the UAE by the EATC on behalf of the FIA, which links 213 national motoring organisations from 125 countries.

See other recent news regarding: UAE, Iran, Tourism

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