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The International Writers Magazine:Rally Jordan

A Car Rally in the Dead Sea
Marwan Asmar
Its catching. Watching car racing rallies increases your heartbeats, drives your adrenalin up, and makes you want to fly, albeit on the roads.


The last Jordan Rally, fourth series of the FIA World Championship Rally (WCR) that took place in Jordan's Dead Sea between 14-16th April, 2011 will certainly be among the international sports that will be remembered.

Amidst the chaos and turbulence the region is experiencing comes car sports that stands as much of an apolitical event juxtaposed to the upheaval the region is going through. At the Dead Sea, it was strictly professional, car drivers, crews, mechanics, holiday-makers, people moving, mingling, and exchanging dream-like stories.

It was a raucous event, people coming from Amman for the day, regional holiday makers, guests from the world-over assembled to watch the stages of a car racing rally. Here, was non of the tension, the media has been hammering down the throats of western audiences.
Whether, it was true or not, concerned authorities and tour operators have never ceased to point out this is sensationalist reporting that affecting the economies badly.

At the Dead Sea, the atmosphere was friendly, smiling faces, it was a period of sportsmanship despite the fact that the rally was running behind schedule, and had to practically cancel the first day that was due to start at mid-day in the Greco-Roman city of Jeresh on Thursday 14 April. 

Truckloads of cars and international teams including  Fiestas and Citroens, eventually cascaded along the Dead Sea shore, getting together in a hectic busy-bodying  way in the “Service Park” area. I was told it was a 30-lorry convoy.  Rally cars were seen choreographically manipulating the stages in specified locations like the so-called power stage at the Baptism Site where it is believed Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

People here and there, were cheering the moving cars in a festive atmosphere that was a reminder of a stock car racing track that I once attended nearby Hastings somewhere in the 1970s. This was Jordan and I thought to myself crowed will be crowds which ever corner of the earth they are in.  

Apparently this racing is a big thing, part of an international rally with may the best man win, and it’s a race that will go all around the globe searching for points, winners and titles as if it's going to unite a fractured world starting from the Middle East, an irony if there was ever one.
The Jordan Rally was being staged at the same time, same tracks, stages and events as the Middle East Rally Championship bringing top motorists from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan. It was certainly a major local, regional and global event, a bit like the commotions going on in different parts of the Arab world, minus the fire, rifles and tanks.
Chairman of the Jordan Motor Sport Prince Faisal Al Hussein says the holding of the sport in the Kingdom must be seen as “a proud moment not only for Jordan but the entire Arab world as we host the FIA World Rally Championship for the third time.” 

The WCR Jordan rally was being staged in the Kingdom for the second consecutive time as the first was held in 2008.  The Kingdom has a great sports racing and rally tradition starting since the early 1980s and before. King Abdallah then prince used to take part in these rallies with different Jordanian teams that displayed much passion for the sport.

The late King Hussein of Jordan, had been intrepid about sports cars and motor cycles, developing an appetite for fast moving machines that became his hobby as a way of retiring from the turbulent world of Middle East politics that was often rife with problems and mayhems.

The Jordan Rally became internationally backed by the Federation Internationale de l’Autombile (FIA) since 1984, to give it the kind of prestige other countries were always looking to obtain.

Jordan Rally Winners At the Jordan Rally French driver Sebastian Oger was the winner, as he celebrated with his co-driver Sebastian Loeb the next stage in the series that took them to Sweden, Portugal and Mexico. Petra Events, part of the Petra Travel and Tourism Company, was responsible for some of the transport and reservation logistics of the rally teams who stayed in the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, Holiday Inn, Kempinski and Movenpick, all of which clustered along the seashores of the Dead Sea. 

Their full-team were on literally 24-hour standby to handle possible quarries and questions for the guests staying at the hotel. Observers say the WRC race is particularly exciting show because of the conditions it is held that require stamina, concentration, power and determination on gravel surfaces that require agility and dexterity.

In the “Service Park”, the atmosphere was festive, a fanfare, a gathering and an outing to exchange experiences and plainly enjoy what is being staged regardless of who were the winners. Ten show tables were especially there to entice the public through handicrafts, soft drinks, coffee, sweets, muffins and tattoos to the blast of music.
It was a sight to remember!

© Marwan Asmar May 2011

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