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Introduce the Family to Saudi Culture at the AlUla Camel Cup

by Eugenia Lazaris

Apr 16, 2024

© Will Stead | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Middle East

Visiting Saudi Arabia means introducing the family to a country rich in culture and history, giving the kids experiences they won’t get anywhere else in the world. I spent several years living as an expat in this desert kingdom, and the experiences I had were not only completely unique but also helped shape my perspective on the world today.


One such experience was observing the camels that roam the desert, providing a constant reminder of the relationship between these majestic animals and the nomadic culture of the people who called the country home for centuries. Camels are not only a mode of transport and a source of milk, but they are also raced for sport, a tradition dating back to the seventh century.


Today, visitors to Saudi Arabia can witness the excitement of this age-old tradition at the AlUla Camel Cup, a four-day experience combining the thrill of camel racing with the incredible desert landscape of the country’s northwest region. This year’s event, the second edition of what is expected to be an annual experience, runs April 24–27. The race coincides with Saudi Arabia’s Year of the Camel, a designation created by the Saudi Ministry of Cultures to celebrate and safeguard the country’s heritage and the connection of its people with these native desert creatures.


The event will take place at Mughayra Heritage Village in AlUla and will consist of several races spanning four days of the event. Some races feature riderless camels, while the jockey races cover different distances and include a 2-kilometer race for female jockeys. When not watching one of the main events, Heritage Village offers numerous ways to experience Saudi culture.


Food stalls serve traditional foods like kabsa, a dish of roasted meat with rice, vegetables and spices, or the tasty muttabaq, a spicy omelet made with vegetables and ground meat. Musical and dance performances will provide plenty of entertainment. Vendors will be on hand throughout the village to sell traditional handicrafts and clothing.


Families will find plenty to keep them busy at Heritage Village during the course of the Camel Cup, but the surrounding countryside is also a wonderful place to explore historical sites like the ancient tombs of Hegra or nearby Tayma, or modern creations like Wadi AlFann, also known as the Valley of the Arts, an open area cultural center of modern artwork spread throughout the valley.


Whether you are looking for sport, history, culture or natural beauty, Saudi Arabia’s AlUla Cup offers a chance for families to find a bit of everything. Alongside the thrill of sport, you will find yourself immersed in a cultural experience that explores the unique traditions of the Arabian Peninsula in a location that will never be forgotten.


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