Free-to-air coverage of Formula One will be broadcast through the Middle East and North Africa as part of a new deal with MBC.

The five-year deal agreed with the FIA gives MBC exclusive rights to all Formula One World Championship races.

Coverage will include training sessions, qualifiers and the race itself, with MBC broadcasting live from each of the 21 races.

“They are in a unique position to help grow F1 throughout the region,” explained Ian Holmes, Formula One’s director of media rights.

MBC takes over coverage of F1 in the Middle East from beIN Sports, which decided not to renew its contract due to low viewing figures and ongoing issues with piracy.

Unlike the coverage by beIN Sports, MBC’s Formula One output will not require subscriptions.

MBC’s CEO, Sam Barnett, said: “The FIA Formula One World Championship is the most prestigious and popular year-long motorsport event par excellence.

“We are thrilled to broadcast it free-to-air to millions of fans in Saudi and across MENA, after it has been encrypted and subscription-based for years.”

MBC is the Middle East’s biggest media company and was founded by Saudi businessman Waleed al-Ibrahim in 1991.

The broadcaster shows a variety of sports across its 18 channels and launched four MBC Pro Sports channels in 2014, which show the Saudi Premier League.

The new deal runs until the 2023 season. The current Formula One World Championships began on 17 March with the Australian Grand Prix.

The next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix on 31 March, while the final race of the Championships will also be held in the Middle East, at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.