Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been voted in as the next president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
The 59-year-old from the United Arab Emirates will be the organization’s first non-European president, though Ben Sulayem is no stranger to the sport. He is a former rally driver who won various titles in the Middle East, and a longtime member of FIA. In 2008, he was elected to the World Motor Sport Council. He was the president of the Automobile and Touring Club of United Arab Emirates, and from 2013 to 2017 he served as FIA vice president for mobility and tourism.
Ben Sulayem set out to win the presidency with his “FIA for Members” campaign, securing the support of many of the members early on in the race, including Motorsport UK and the Royal Automobile Club.
“One of the main issues is governance,” Ben Sulayem said in an interview before the elections. You can say we have governance, but there is nothing against having more governance.”
Ben Sulayem’s campaign manifesto pledged to create a more inclusive FIA for all members and to make auto racing more accessible to people from all regions, namely South America, Asia and Africa. “We have to listen to them,” he said. “Transparency is very important. Accountability is very important. We can’t see business as usual … that it won’t work right now. The challenges are getting harder and severe.”
For the last eight years, FIA has been headed by Jean Todt, the former general manager of Ferrari. Ben Sulayem will hold his position until 2025 but can be reelected.