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MXGP in Wattayah a great chance for Oman to promote its commerce, tourism, and sports

25 May 2022

Muscat – Motorcycles have always captured the imagination of men, especially those young at heart.

Powerful mean machines, whether built for cruising and racing on roads, or riding on tricky terrains and mud tracks have invariably stolen admiring glances, to say the least. And for some; riding a bike, its throttle in their hand and the wind in their hair, and without a care in the world; provides ultimate thrill.

Come September, a bunch of daredevil bike riders will come to Oman for the FIM Motocross World Championship to be held in Maidan Al Fateh Stadium in Wattayah.

Those riders are sure to thrill the spectators – thousands at the venue and millions all over the world in front of the TV screens – with their thrilling performance that at times defies gravity and belies the laws of physics.

Around 60 riders will fight for honours in two categories – MXGP and MX2 – on September 9 and 10 in Wattayah, making Oman the only country in the Middle East and the second one in the whole of Asia (after Indonesia) to host the prestigious championship this season.

The Oman leg has the added significance as it is also the season finale of the MXGP and MX2, while the Season 2022 Awards Ceremony will also be held here, on September 10.

 H H Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, has appointed Trade8 International to organise the Championship in Oman, and they will be supported by Infront Sports which owns the MXGP brand, and Oman Automobile Association as they look to make it a grand success.

And with just over 100 days to go for the championship, Marco Occhipinti, Jelena Popovic, and Saoud al Shawarzi of Trade8 International, three people working tirelessly towards that goal, are excited about the first ever Motocross World Championship in Oman.

In an interview with Muscat Daily, they spoke about the championship, the challenges in organising it, and how it is important for the sport as well as the country.

The FIM Motocross World Championship is coming to Oman for the very first time. How excited are you?

Let us start by expressing our warm gratitude to H H Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, the whole team from the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Youth working with H E Basil al Rawas, the Ministry of Information, H E Asilah bint Salem al Samsamiya and her team from Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, and Muscat Municipality that have all been extremely supportive by endorsing this event from the start helping us – the MXGP Oman organisers – and the Oman Automobile Association in delivering this event.

 With this kind of support and help, we are beyond excited to have such a prestigious event held in our country for the first time. International and global sports events are not only about sports. They also serve as a very powerful tool of communication directed at the world to promote the hosting country as a safe destination for tourists, businesses, and investment opportunities. It is time that the world knows about our amazing and fantastic country so rich in history, heritage and culture.

What are the main challenges in organising such a big event, especially in a place where it has never been to?

As this event is huge in magnitude and since it is the very first time we are hosting it in Oman, there are many technical challenges to be dealt with.

But since we have the support of the government which involves teamwork with the Oman Automobile Association, we hope we will be able to deliver something amazing with further support from the private sector whose participation is crucial as valuable partners and sponsors in making the Oman Motocross World Championship a big success.

We hope that this interview can raise their awareness of how their involvement and financial support can make a big difference in the promotion of Oman.

What are the prospects of motocross becoming a regular sport in the region?

We wish that this world championship for which we signed an agreement for three years can be a regular event in the calendar of the Sultanate of Oman for many more years giving a new experience to the young population as we have no doubt some of them can become future competitors representing Oman.

Do you think this event will help improve the profile of motocross, and motorsport in general, in the country?

Since we announced this event, we have received many inquiries from motocross enthusiasts from Oman and the region. Motorsports is still at an early stage in Oman, however with the sheer scale of this event never hosted before in Oman, we need to put all our efforts, commonly, in order to deliver a successful event to promote our country which will have a tremendous impact on ICV, visibility, tourism and investment promotion. 

This event is not only about sports but is a propeller for many other sectors as we will show to the world just how our country is open, and ready for many aspects of international tourism, trade, and commerce. The world needs to know more about Oman and we want to contribute to this.

Motocross needs specific tracks, which makes it a comparatively difficult one to pursue. Do you think FIM can do anything about it?

The MXGP and FIM teams were just in Oman a few days ago with their top technicians to assess three potential locations and they will assist us to build the track.

We are sure they will do a fantastic job as they have tremendous experience in this field and they have been doing it for more than 50 years. Without a doubt, Maidan Al Fateh Stadium in Wattayah  will add to the publicity around Oman as the location itself will be a magnificent way to close season 2022 in Oman!

What are your thoughts on the track? Is it made specifically for this event?

The idea behind the track is to have a permanent structure in order to host GCC competitions and promote the exchange of tech and knowledge between the countries, continue attracting regional visitors and also create a future academy for children and motocross enthusiasts to promote the sport.

The Oman leg is endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Youth as a family-oriented event. Are there any specific measures (like play areas for kids) planned to make it more family-friendly?

As this is a world-class event involving international regulations, and since as a country, we are hosting it for the very first time, the main focus is the event itself. Discussions are ongoing on creating a real festival in the second edition with cultural content such as concerts, and spectacles and to also showcase the products and services from the SME sector to the visitors.

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