Saudi Arabia’s latest venture into sport has come with an increased presence in electric racing. Yesterday motorsporting giant McLaren announced that Neom – a region of the Middle Eastern Kingdom that’s set to become an eco hub at a cost of $500bn – would become title partner of both the Formula E and Extreme E teams next year.
It’s the latest partnership from the region for the Papaya team with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) partly owning the company and McLaren entering into a sponsorship deal with cycling team Bahrain-Merida.
“Neom [who also have a deal with Asian Football] is perhaps the best known of PIF’s giga-projects, designed to stimulate economic growth and help Saudi chart a path to an oil-free future,” Neil Hopkins, head of global strategy at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, told City A.M.
“At some point such investments will therefore have to begin to pay off.
“The combination of the cutting-edge technology involved in the development of the vehicles and the fact that McLaren has recently unveiled a partnership between its F1 team and Goldman Sachs suggest the association can have considerable long term benefits for the Kingdom.”
McLaren’s ‘E’ team will enter the sport next season through the acquisition of outgoing Mercedes-EQ and the Neom deal will see McLaren become a partner in a new research campus in Oxagon, a coastal Neom city – there will also be one-year placement opportunities for Saudi Arabians.
“State-backed partnerships have certainly become more commonplace in recent years and range from full-blown national brand-building exercises such as Azerbaijan’s sponsorship of Atletico Madrid to more nuanced relationships positioned around tourism including Visit Rwanda’s partnerships with Arsenal and PSG,” Hopkins added.
McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown said: “This is an incredible way to kick off our entry into Formula E and to unify our electric racing series”