The Paris-Dakar car rally gets lost in the sands of Saudi propaganda


The Paris-Dakar Rally, often now known simply as the Dakar Rally or Dakar, has been held most years since 1979, and this rally through desert sands is one of the most high-profile motor sports events on the planet. The 2020 rally, which began on Sunday January 5th, is taking place for the first time in Saudi Arabia. Mediapart's Middle East correspondent René Backmann argues in this opinion article that underneath the media din and razzmatazz, the event is nothing more than a PR exercise by the Saudi regime to persuade people to forget its despotic, fundamentalist and brutal nature, as well as the scale of its crimes.

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The 557 competitors who began the 42nd Paris-Dakar Rally in Jeddah on Sunday January 5th probably think that they are taking part in a sporting competition. They probably believe that over the following 12 days, the event is all about them testing their ability to navigate the desert, mastering how to drive in the sand and overcoming their resistance to extreme fatigue. But they are mistaken.