RIYADH/SAUDI ARABIA – When it comes to camels, no other nation does it better than Saudi Arabia, a country known for feats such as setting a world record in September last year for its Crown Prince Camel Festival, named the World’s Largest Camel Sporting Event in 2018, and this year for Princess Jamila Bint Abdul Majeed Bin Saud Bin Abdulaziz becoming the first Saudi women in history to compete in camel racing in the Kingdom. This year, another camel – related sensation that Saudi Arabia is known for is back and even bigger than ever.
The renowned King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival, known as the largest camel festival in the world, is back for its fourth edition. This cultural heritage event, which will begin in a couple of days on November 1, promises to bring in numerous contestants looking to have their camel compete in race and show competitions, and to take home milions of riyals in prize money.
Speaking on the upcoming launch of the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival, Fahd bin Falah bin Hithil, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Camel Club, thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for their continuous support of the annual festival and for their unwavering focus to grow the country’s economy through its tourism, culture, and heritage sectors. According the Arab News, Hithlin also explained the “measures had been taken to enhance the programs and activities” of this year’s edition such as the inclusion of “new contests such as one for Fahl camels, a Hajjij camel contest – for the first time at the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival – and a Tabe contest”.
The much-anticipated festival is not only an opportunity for camel owners to compete and enthusiasts to watch the fun, it is also part of larger efforts by Saudi Arabia over the past few years to grow its economy and improve the overall quality of life for its citizens like never before. Furthermore, in order to diversify its economy and open its doors to more visitors, the Kingdom is carefully trying to balance the reaction of some of its more conservative population. One approach has been to emphasize and celebrate the more traditional aspects of Saudi culture, one of which is the camel, used for centuries for food, transport, and even in war.