Information for Travellers During COVID-19

The Traditional Camel Racing In Saudi Arabia Is A Delight To Watch

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Camel racing in Saudi Arabia is a traditional and extremely popular sport worldwide. Riyadh, Taif, and Sharurah are the ideal places to spectate best-bred camels sprinting furiously in the race. On an average racing day, around 100 camels participate in these races running around a 6- to 10-kilometer circuit. With a little help from the jockeys on their backs and the cavalry of jeeps following them, the camels can achieve incredible speeds of up to 40 kilometers per hour. These animals present a thrilling site racing for glory at such monumental speeds. Visiting the racetracks with an organized tour group is the best way for tourists to experience these events.

Camel racing history

Camel racing has been a part of Arabian society in some form or another for decades, with some historians connecting races back to the seventh century. In the past, nomadic Bedouins organized the first-ever camel races in Arabian Peninsula. The tribe used camels as a means of transportation, a display of wealth, and a lifeline in a challenging climate.

The first official camel race was organized in 1964 as part of the Heritage Festival in Saudi Arabia. Camel racing became an entirely professional sport in Saudi Arabia ten years later, in 1975. Fast forward to now, the authorities organize massive races and camel festivals some with multi-million Saudi Riyal rewards. Further, the races promote non religious tourism and the tradition of Saudi Arabia among local and worldwide tourists. Additionally, these races solidify unity by bringing people from different walks of life together with the sole purpose of enjoying the event.

Camel festivals in Saudi Arabia

 

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Camel festivals in Saudi Arabia provide a unique opportunity to enjoy and get an insight into the wonders of camel racing. Annually, Saudi Arabia hosts 2 major camel festivals:

1. The King Abdul-Aziz Camel Festival, Riyadh

The King Abdul-Aziz Festival for Camels is a Saudi Arabian cultural and sporting event organized in the Kingdom’s capital, Riyadh. Hundreds and thousands of camels participate in the festival decorated as per the Islamic traditions. The festival is known to promote sport and cultural tourism in Riyadh. Jockeys from various parts of the world participate in this event which is held in winter.

2. The Crown Prince Camel Festival, Taif

The festival sees several racing events with thousands of camels racing for the winning prize and the ultimate glory. In 2021, 532 races were organized, with total prize money of SR 53 million ($ 14.1 million). The Crown Prince’s Sword Award, worth SR 1 million, was also presented at the Crown Prince Camel Festival to the owner of the camel with the highest points in the public races. The previous two editions of the Camel Festival were huge triumphs, signaling a qualitative shift in camel racing in Saudi Arabia and among its supporters.

Location: Taif Camel Square, Taif

Best places to see camel races in Saudi Arabia

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Camel racing in Saudi Arabia is a must-see for tourists seeking authentic local experiences. Here are several places to visit for an enthusiastic racing event.

1. Taif Camel Square, Taif

Those planning a vacation to Taif in August should check out the newly founded Crown Prince Camel Festival. More than 10,000 camels compete in 786 rounds of competition at this camel festival. The festival also holds a Guinness World Record for 13,377 camels taking part in the event.

2. Sharurah, Empty Quarter

Tourists looking to experience camel racing in natural settings should head south to the Empty Quarter. Long-time inhabitants and tribe members in the village of Sharurah, beside the Yemen border organize these races regularly to attract more visitors to this desirable location.

3. Janadriyah, Riyadh

The National Festival of Heritage and Culture, also known as Janadriyah, is a two-week event held at the Janadriyah Cultural & Heritage Festival. Tourists visiting the festival not only are able to watch camel racing, but can also indulge in Saudi folk art, music, and literature.

Must Read: Janadriyah National Festival 2022: A Cultural Extravaganza Near Riyadh

Facts about camel racing events

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  • The total coverable distance in these races is between 3 and 10 kilometers
  • Thousands of decorated camels take part in Saudi Arabian camel racing events
  • In brief sprints, camels can reach roughly 65 km/h, and they can sustain a pace of around 40 km/h
  • As a general practice in the past, child jockeys are frequently in charge of these racing camels due to their lightweights. However, the government is putting restrictions on this practice as there have been cases of human rights violations against these jockeys.
  • In Saudi Arabia, camels are now raised specifically for the racetrack, with carefully monitored breeding, training, and maintaining a strict diet

Camel racing is one of the Arab world’s most traditional and favorite pastimes. Camel racing in Saudi Arabia extends back to pre-Islamic times, and the custom of racing the strongest, quickest, and most attractive camels is still alive today. Tourists visiting Saudi Arabia must watch the best-bred Camels in any of these races to get enthralled by this fascinating sport.

Camel Racing In Saudi Arabia FAQs

What are popular camel festivals of Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia hosts several camel festivals annually including King Abdul-Aziz Camel Festival and Crown Prince Camel Festival.

Which are the famous camel racing destinations?

Camel Racing in Saudi Arabia occurs at Taif, Riyadh and Sharurah, Empty Quarter.

What is the origin of camel racing in Saudi Arabia?

Camel racing in Saudi Arabia dates back to the 7th century.

Why is the second edition of Crown Prince Camel Festival popular?

The 2nd edition of the Crown Prince Camel Festival made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, having broken records after hosting 11,186 camels along 787 routes.

What is the top speed of camels in camel races?

Camels can reach up to 65 Km/hr in an average camel race.

Pratyush Srivastava

I think, every human is a beautifully concealed epoch in the making with God to unravel it at the perfect time. Hence, synergizing with distinctive individuals in search of an interesting story is my favorite work as a writer and creator.

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