Bloomberg Businessweek

Saudi Arabia Steps Into the Ring

• The kingdom sees racing, boxing, and soccer as a way to boost its profile and soften its image
The “Clash on the Dunes”

On Jan. 5 the Saudi port of Jeddah echoed with the roar of hundreds of cars, motorcycles, and trucks in the Dakar Rally, a grueling two-week trek through the mountains and deserts of the kingdom—the first time the event is being held in the Middle East. That came just four weeks after the “Clash on the Dunes,” a heavyweight boxing title bout near the ancestral home of the Saudi ruling family, which was billed as a worthy successor to Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” and “Thrilla in Manila.” And on Feb. 29, 14 thoroughbreds will take

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