• alula, saudi arabia
    03-04 april 2021

    population 35.34mil
    timezone utc +3

    AVG. TEMP (year) 22.3°C
    AVG. SUNLIGHT (day) 11hrs
    AVG. RAINFALL (year) 59mm
    Height above sea level 750m
    Terrain Sand dunes, rocks

    issue facing desertification, Plastic pollution

  • Media ID-3722

    Extreme E visited Saudi Arabia, home of the world’s largest continuous sand desert, and its AlUla region in Season 1 for its inaugural X Prix. AlUla was chosen as a location by Extreme E, not only for its incredibly picturesque 22,500 km2 of desert and its significant culture and heritage, but also because this sport for purpose series aims to highlight the causes of desertification and loss of biological diversity in this vulnerable region. In addition,  the unforgiving desert terrain of AlUla also ensured it would be the ultimate test for the drivers and their ODYSSEY 21 electric SUVs. 

  • Media ID-3726
    field notes

    find out what timo had to say about the desert x prix

    Prior to the Desert X Prix in April 2021, the series spoke to its Championship Driver and Course Advisor, Timo Schneider, who provided a rundown of what drivers and teams would expect when they took on the challenge of the desert.

  • Media ID-3725

    racing conditions

    Timo Schneider said, “In terms of surface, there are various types of sand conditions out there. There is soft sand with rocks in between, dunes scaling up and down hill, which all differ in thickness of the sand. Outside temperature will also affect the ground surface. 

    “Driver ’and teams will have to be sensible when analysing both the terrain and weather conditions and may have to adapt their style depending on the surface temperature, which could see grip availability begin to fluctuate through the corners.

  • Media ID-3724

    obstacles

    ‘Other than the obvious, we have various natural obstacles, like dune grass, and bushes. There are also deeps and blind crests, stuff you have to be very aware of. These are for sure, guiding you through different areas, meaning sometimes you are on the right line and sometimes on the wrong line. You have to be very ensible and analyse the track layout because once you’re out there, you don’t have too much track view to determine exactly where to go. Drivers will need to make sure that they have as much information as possible to understand where what is the quickest way. 

    “Overtaking may also be trickier than it seems. As well as having knowledge of their racing line, drivers need to know what is beside their line, to determine whether to overtake on the right or left side of the car in front. One wrong move and they may be faced with a tricky obstacle to navigate."

    Timo was certainly accurate in his assimilation.  The terrain in AlUla was stunning and unforgiving, while the heat and conditions were intense.
    There is no question that the winning combination of Rosberg X Racing’s drivers and machine was a deserving one…

  • Media ID-3723

    local environment

    Extreme E selected AlUla to highlight the importance of deserts as biologically important ecosystems while the misuse of natural resources is the main cause of desertification and loss of biological diversity. Historically AlUla has been home to a vast array of plants and animals. Efforts by the Royal commission of AlUla are now focused on the conservation of native flora and fauna.

    population 5,426

    plant species 228
    mammal species 23
    reptile species 31
    bird species 30
    Fish Species 280

  • Media ID-5544

    The Problem

    Deserts are regions in which more water evaporates from the ground than is replaced by precipitation. They’re characterised by extremely harsh conditions, scarce water and barren landscapes. Far from being wastelands, deserts are biologically rich ecosystems, with a vast array of plants and animals adapted to their harsh conditions.

    The impacts of climate change, such as increasing temperatures and more frequent and longer periods of drought alongside human actions such as deforestation, overgrazing, unsustainable water use and agricultural practices can all contribute to the degradation of environments and productivity. This is desertification. Around 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year as a result of desertification and drought alone. Over the next few decades, the average water availability in some dry regions is projected to decrease by 10-30%, leading to 2.4 billion people worldwide subject to periods of intense water scarcity – displacing as many as 700 million people.

  • Media ID-5545

    Extreme e legacy

    Extreme E has collaborated with the Ba’a Foundation, an organisation that focuses on preserving endangered species, natural habitats and historical sites to support turtle conservation along the Red Sea coastline.

    Extreme E is supporting the protection of the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, which are under threat for a variety of reasons including:

    • Entanglement in fishing gear
    • Illegal trade of eggs, which are considered a delicacy in some countries,
      and turtle shells
    • Coastal development including building on nesting beaches
    • Plastic debris

  • Media ID-5546

    Extreme E aims to raise awareness of the environmental consequences of desertification and will work with local and international experts in the field on projects serving to preserve and restore ecosystems affected by the impact of desertification and climate change.

    Climate change is causing rising sand temperatures, creating a gender ratio skew as turtle gender is determined by the temperature – the higher the temperature, the more likely the turtle is to be female – as well as rising sea levels which can erode nesting beaches and flood nesting sites.

    One of the nesting places the project focuses on is Ras Baridi, located 50 kilometres north of Yanbu city in Saudi Arabia, and a location where turtles are born and return 30 years later to reproduce. Unfortunately, due to the damage to the beach – created by transportation and cement dust from the nearby factory which solidifies the sand – the turtle returns to find 15-20 metres of the beach is flooded relative to its birth, so they have to reach higher ground. 

  • Media ID-5547

    Researchers at KAUST University have been monitoring turtle activity and behaviour for many years, by attaching a tracking device to their shells. Through this, it has noted a big issue due to erosion, which has created a cliff that turtles are falling off and sadly dying.
     
    Extreme E is supporting the turtle conservation through beach fencing, beach management and monitoring, improvements such as raising the level of the beaches to a suitable height with imported sand for turtle-nesting and successful egg-hatching, as well as education.