Captions' Corner: Racing to an inclusive future
There is much to celebrate this weekend as the Formula One returned to Bahrain. The brilliant Lewis Hamilton looks all set to blaze a trail with yet another spectacular victory that combines focus, pitch-perfect driving skills and presence of mind.
Indeed, the story of motorsports in Bahrain is to be applauded for the way it challenged preconceived ideas of contemporary Arab ideals and goals. When HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister first presented the idea of bringing the Formula One to Bahrain in 2004, it was the first desert race and an exciting spin on the global sport. Till then, Arab drivers and fans were very much mere spectators and seen as owners of fast cars and nothing more. But the race changed that – it instantly created a live platform for the aspirations of a whole new generation of Arabs, not just Bahrainis. It was not just about driving a fast car – it was about learning new motoring skills, harnessing new organisational tools to stage a world-class race and breaking the stereotype. Since then, and even during the worst crisis, Bahrain has often seen glowing headlines in the world press which focus on the F1 and give the Kingdom a three-dimensional identity beyond politics and business.
But beyond words, we also need to make the sport itself more accessible, less expensive to enter and enjoy. Here too, by making this year’s F1 audience an invited frontline group, the Sakhir Race has raised the bar on how the race can win new audiences all over the world.
Hamilton has been quoted as saying that he will be working for a more inclusive F1 going forward. And that is as it should be. Just like the Crown Prince and Prime Minister challenged the world and this wealthy sport to think differently in 2004, we must push the envelope now and welcome more people of colour and ethnicities to be part of the stakeholding. Only then will the global perspective of the F1 develop.
The writer Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism