Middle East battle hots up

THE competition to be the first country to host a Grand Prix in the Middle East seems to be heating up with Turkey, Beirut, Dubai and Bahrain all squabbling to get a date on the Formula 1 calendar that may or may not exist next year. And Egypt is still in the picture as well.

The whole business seems to be boiling down to which of the proposed races has the most money available and, as contracts with most European races for many years to come, the opportunities are few and far between. And one must include the fact that Moscow is also bidding for a race.

The Beirut race is being backed by Solidere, the construction company which is rebuilding the center of the city and is owned by local politician Rafic Al-Hariri. The intention is to build a track similar in layout to Monaco around the new harbor and the long term goal is to rid the city of the reputation for being a war zone. The company says that the city is ready to host a Grand Prix in 2003.

Turkey is not as advanced as the local automobile club still needs to find the funding to build a track. Dubai is looking at a street race while Bahrain is already constructing a proper racing circuit.

Our money is on Bahrain...

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