Inaugural Masafi 4WD Rally 1980

Motor Sports events had been held in Dubai since the early 1970s but not Motor Rallying. Masafi 4WD Rally was a first for Dubai back in 1980. Motor Rallying became a major sport in Dubai with an active calendar of events attracting International, Regional and Local Competitors.

Organising the First Masafi 4WD Rally

February 29th 1980 marked the start of Dubai's formal involvement in Motor Sport. Al Nasr Motor Sports Club organised the Rally, planning a 450km long through the desert and mountain regions. Competitors took around 8 hours to complete the course. Spectators could not easily access the rally route so special stages designed for spectators were included such as Marmon Quarry on the Jebel Ali Road. Marmon Quarry Special Stage became a popular place for the Public to watch the Masafi Rally, providing a test for both Drivers and Cars.

Rally was sponsored by the Masafi Water Company which began producing bottled water at Masafi in the Hajjar Mountains in 1976

Competitors, Winners and Prizes

Rally's 34 Competitors were mainly Dubai Residents with some entries from Gulf States. Their cars ranged from specially prepared Rally Cars to the Family 4WD adorned with Sponsors' Stickers. The first Masafi Rally start line was at the old Dubai Hilton Hotel - now demolished. Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum (then UAE's Defence Minister) started the Rally. Stan Robinson (then Chairman Al Nasr Motor Sports Club) provided the Rally Commentary. Saeed Khalfan and John Spiller in their Mercedes 230G were comfortable winners of this first Masafi 450 kilometre Rally. Bahrain entry of David Ovey and Brian Carron came second. Kath Goulder and Caroline Astley won the Ladies Prize in a 797cc Suzuki. Prizes were distributed by Abdul Rahman Al Ghurair, Managing Director of Masafi Water.


Where are they now?

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is now Ruler of Dubai, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister.
  • Late Stan Robinson was Manager at Al Gargash (Mercedes Benz Agent) and became well known for providing public commentary at many of Dubai's events.
  • Saeed Khalfan went on to be Dubai's First Rally Champion and Chairman Dubai Autodrome
  • Masafi Water Company began selling bottled spring water in 1976 and continues to do so.
  • John Spiller went on to international rally success and now associated with a Dubai Sports Management.