Muscat: Teenage go-karting starlet Shihab Al Habsi will surely be more inspired to pursue his dream of becoming Oman's first Formula One driver after receiving the support of Oman Olympic Committee (OCC) and Dhofar Automotive LLC.
The three-year deal will see Dhofar Automotive fund young Shihab's sporting endeavours, which will be used to look after his travel allowances, training gear and equipment, dietary and nutritive requirements.
The sponsorship agreement between Dhofar Automotive and Shihab Al Habsi comes as part of OOC's efforts to facilitate private sector involvement in the development of Omani athletes and sports.
The deal was sealed on Tuesday with Shihab Al Habsi and Dhofar Automotive General Manager Rhett Maxwell putting the ink to the paper during a signing ceremony organised at the OOC Headquarters in the presence of Shihab's father Ahmed and OOC vice-chairman Sheikh Saif Al Hosni.
Also present on the occasion were Omani rallying great Hamed Al Wahaibi, Oman Automobile Association Managing Director Suleiman Al Rawahi and OOC Secretary-General Taha Al Kishry.
While the exact figures of the agreement were not disclosed, Dhofar Automotive General Manager Rhett Maxwell is confident that this will help Al Habsi go a long way in future.
"I wouldn't say that Shihab is a boy, rather I'd say he is a young man," said Maxwell, speaking to Times Sport. "Most people at his age have other distractions, but he has shown a single-minded approach towards his ambitions."
"We've been following him for a long time, and he has undeniable talent, but although he does have his head straight, he has a lot of responsibility on those very young shoulders of his, so we are looking to help him by providing him the money he needs to make his dreams come true," he added.
"Oman Olympic Committee is trying to encourage the next generation of motorsport drivers in the nation and we hope that this will help them follow in the tracks of Shihab."
"Most of Shihab's upcoming practice drives are in the north of Europe, so we hope that this partnership will help make his journey easier," continued Maxwell.
"With some talented youngsters, you have to keep an eye on them every week, but Shihab and his family are good people so we know they will make the most of this partnership. The next three years of his progression are crucial and a lot can happen during this time, so we are very happy to be part of it."
With two younger brothers looking to emulate him, Shihab is aware of the responsibilities such an opportunity brings him, and he seems very excited to take his abilities to the next level.
"I am honoured that the Oman Olympic Committee and Dhofar Automotive gave me this help, and to receive this kind of support means a lot to me," he said. "I am looking forward to doing my country proud and will continue to do my best while representing my nation so that the Sultanate can hold its head high.
"I know this is an immense responsibility and I will take it very seriously," added the 13-year-old, who has accumulated several honours representing Oman. "I also want to thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos for the faith he has shown in me and will continue to do him and my family proud."