FIA president Jean Todt says the World Rally Championship will return to the Middle East, despite Abu Dhabi being dropped from the calendar at the World Motor Sport Council meeting.
Todt said he hoped Abu Dhabi would take up the offer of running a Candidate WRC round next year. And he admitted the decision not to include Abu Dhabi this year had not been taken lightly at the last WMSC meeting.
"We were discussing at length this opportunity," said the FIA president. "And we felt that we were not in a position to maintain the position [for Abu Dhabi] in the calendar.
"We hope they will be able to organize a first [Candidate] rally in 2012 to demonstrate the potential, the level of the organization and the level of the roads in order to continue this.
"The Middle East will definitely be part of the future of the WRC. The World Rally Championship must cover the world. At the moment, it covers too much Europe. We are starting to rebuild it, but it takes time. We are moving slowly, but surely."
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's Dayne Lim confirmed on June 9 that it would not run a Candidate round, saying: "We respectfully decline the WMSC's invitation to run a Candidate event."
The Middle East's only other WRC round, the Jordan Rally, has already confirmed it will not run an event next season after this season's troubled event.