The month-long festival celebrating the Kingdom’s culture and heritage drew a total of more than 300,000 visitors
King of Bahrain and Crown Princes of Kuwait and Dubai also attend final day’s event during which King Salman inaugurated a new 8km camel racecourse
RIYADH, February 2 (CIC) – King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attended the final day on Thursday of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, a month-long event that celebrates the Kingdom’s culture and heritage.
Along with large crowds of spectators, the King and Crown Prince watched the last two rounds of camel races at the festival site in Al Dhahna, 120 km northeast of Riyadh, before awarding prizes to the winners of the King Abdulaziz Camel Pageant and the King Abdulaziz Camel Races, which have been taking place over the past month.
Over the course of the festival, a total of 2,172 race winners were awarded with prize money totalling more than SAR 95.8 million (USD $25.5 million). Around 26,000 camels participated in the “Camel Mazayen” or beauty contest, which crowned the most beautiful, as well as the world’s tallest camels.
More than 300,000 people attended this year’s festival since the gates opened on January 1, a significant increase on last year. The festival, which was founded in 1999 by a group of Bedouins, has become a major annual event, attracting spectators from all over the world.
The title of this year’s festival was “Camels are Civilization”. Some of the most attractive features of the event include camel beauty and obedience contests as well as racing, where big prize money was up for grabs.
Visitors could also watch artists creating textiles using camel hair and sand-art and attend workshops on how to get creative in the desert. The month-long festival also included theatre performances, painting and story-telling workshops for children, as well as traditional Saudi Ardha dance and poetry recitals. King Abdulaziz Prize for Folk Literature was given during the festival. The Sanam exhibition highlighted the importance of the camel in Arab culture. Other activities include the heritage market.
Also in attendance on the final day were the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa; the Crown Prince of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah; Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum; Oman’s Minister of Sports Affairs Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed Al-Saadi; the Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif; and the festival’s General Supervisor, Dr Fahd Al-Sammari, along with other notables.
“The King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is a national and cultural event that emphasizes our Arab and Islamic identity and the rootedness of our national heritage and preserves it for the generations to come,” Dr Al-Sammari was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency.
At Thursday’s event, King Salman inaugurated the 8km King Abdulaziz Camel Racecourse , which has a total of seven tracks and can host up to 100 camels and 200 cars.
After the prizes were handed out, King Salman and spectators were treated to a dance performance entitled “Camels in Our World”, which celebrated the Middle Eastern and African countries to which camels are indigenous. This was followed by the traditional Ardha sword dance and the Saudi national anthem. King Salman was handed a ceremonial sword and took part from his seat in the stands, to cheers from the crowd.