crankandpiston catches up with Motorsport Solutions’ Mohammad Al Falasi and his very busy Blackberry to discuss the motor racing situation in the Middle East.[Not a valid template]
The impeccably dressed gentleman sitting across the desk from me apologises as he looks at his Blackberry and asks whether we’d mind if he took this call. Naturally we don’t, and he proceeds. This happens another six times during crankandpiston’s conversation with the CEO of Motorsport Solutions, Mohammed Al Falasi.
Not that we mind. We have already taken up 45 minutes of Mohammad’s time at this point of the interview, time which – given Motorsport Solution’s increased involvement in raising the profile of Middle Eastern motor racing – is pretty scarce at the best of times. True to form though, the Emirati gent explains to the caller that he ‘will call them right back’ and sits down once again to continue our chat. One thing Mohammad likes talking about is motorsport, it being a passion of his and all. Indeed, it was this same passion that brought Motorsport Solutions into the motor racing scene just a few shorts years ago.
“Motorsport Solutions actually started because of a need and a suffering that I faced,” he explains. “It’s now almost two years since the company was established, and I wanted to move my passion into business. The local society does not understand motorsport, so there is a gap between what is happening at motorsport events and what the potential fans understand. And it’s difficult to attract support without that understanding.
“Motorsport needs to evolve to become the hub, to create events that are more relevant to what the people of this region want; to support drivers; to support racing teams; and to promote motorsport marketing and awareness.”
There’s no getting away from the fact that, despite the relative influx of motor racing disciplines into the region within the past few years, the sport does not boast the same standing it does in Europe or the United States whose respective lineages can be traced back well over half a century. For the Middle East, it’s barely broken the double figures. For the petrolhead community and the motorsport elite in particular, this is a worry. Motorsport is littered with examples of series and programmes that have been and gone due to poor planning, a lack of cash and muted interest from fans (anyone remember Superleague Formula or A1GP?). Motorsport Solutions is consequently very keen to make sure the UAE’s motor racing credibility doesn’t go the same way.
“The infrastructure is there,” Mohammad continues. “The passion for motoring in general is very high in the region. I mean, the income per capita that helps people get into motorsport is much higher than in many parts of the world as well, so it’s much easier. The problem I think is that motorsport was presented at a very high level very quickly and without establishing a base. There’s a big gap. Motorsport was suddenly something only for the elite and therefore something that the general public could not attain.”