Houthi militants in Yemen have announced a three-day ceasefire in the aftermath of missile attacks on Jeddah on Friday.
During the first free practice session of the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, a fire broke out after Houthi militants launched missiles at an Aramco oil facility just over 10 kilometres from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Plumes of black smoke that could be seen in the distance from the racetrack, and Saudi Arabian Motorsport officially acknowledged that there had been an attack.
Concern began to grow that the track may be the next target for the militants.
However, FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem told the press that he had been given reassurances that the Houthis’ target is “not the civilians and of course not the track.”
“We had the assurance from high level that this is a secure place, the whole team will be secure and let’s go racing,” he explained.
“For sure, all the families are here, we are looking forward but with an assurance that nothing’s going to happen.”
After a five-hour deliberation following Friday practice, the drivers eventually came to a unanimous decision to go racing this weekend, and a GPDA announcement on Saturday appreciated that security at the event had been “elevated” to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen in 2015 after a plea for help from president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2014 when he was ousted by the Houthis.
Mahdi al-Mashat, political leader of the Houthis, hopes that this is the first step towards piece between the warring countries.
“This is a sincere invitation and practical steps to rebuild trust and take all the sides from the arena of talks to the arena of acts,” he said.
“And we are ready to turn this declaration into a final and permanent commitment in the event that Saudi Arabia commits to ending the siege and stopping its raids on Yemen once and for all.”
However, the Houthis have neglected to commit to talks in Riyadh, as they do not wish to negotiate in “enemy countries”.