Since King Abdulaziz inherited the throne, camel festivals have been considered as the most important traditional events to occur in the Kingdom. These cultural festivals are the most cared for events due to their high value to the Saudi people. Camel festivals are incredibly diverse, and that’s an indisputable fact in the kingdom, but towering above those festivals lies King Abdulaziz Camel Festival.
King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, one of the most immense and prominent events in the region, is being held this year from March 19 till April 15 in Al Sayaheed, a small village in the Rumah governorate of Riyadh province. Al Sayaheed has been considered the permanent home of this event of several years. Organizers claim that so far, this festival hosts more than 35,000 visitors daily, which gives a clear indication of the evident popularity of this event to many people.
Concerning the location, Al Sayaheed has been for centuries an assembling point for camel caravans arriving from all around the Arabian Peninsula. The King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives is organizing this festival to make it the world’s largest camel capital. “We want this location to become the reference point for everything that is related to camels,” said Dr. Fahd Al Semmari, the foundation secretary general. Al Sayaheed is also a key place in the history of combatant camels. It was also the operation base for the camel-mounted followers of Saudi Arabia’s founder King Abdulaziz during his extensive campaign to unify the country from about 85 years ago.
This festival contains numerous activities: “Miss Camel Beauty Contest,” camel auctions, and poetry competitions are just some examples. To add, the festival includes a special exhibition on the history of camels and vets to assist and aid ill or injured camels.
Now, visitors from around the globe are permitted for the first time to enter this festival, but with special visas on arrival that can be issued through the festival’s website. “As part of the 2030 vision, Saudi Arabia is now focused on expanding its cultural and tourism environment,” claims Dr. Al Semmari.
Prizes are common in this festival. For instance, Miss Camel Beauty Contest, one of the most notable events in the festival is valued at about 112 million Saudi Riyals. One amusing fact about the festival is that many participants were disqualified from the contest due to fake lips, which is the action of injecting silicon into camels’ lips.
Being able to maintain this hobby and to organize such successful festivals has caused people’s love to this country to intensify dramatically. “In the 1940s, when cars were introduced to Saudi Arabia, people said it was the end of camels. But decades later, here we are, and camels are still kings,” added Dr. Semmari as a conclusion.