Last week, hundreds of camels and their owners from across the region took over the Taif region in Saudi Arabia, making their way to the Crown Prince Festival for Camels, which is organized by the Saudi Federation of Camels. The race, which comprises 11 camel categories, including Mafarid, Haqqa, Laqaya, Jatha’a, Thanaya, Heil, Zamoul, and Soudaniyat, pits competitors against each other for a chance to take home a number of prizes; the total prize pool for this year’s event amounts to a staggering $12 million.
In preparation for the event, the festival’s organizing committee prepared and equipped a 10-kilometer racetrack, including seven paved tracks, three for camel owners and one for media. According to Arab News, 658 rounds have been allocated to camel races, starting with warm-up rounds, followed by two production and marathon rounds, and concluding with closing rounds.
The festival will run until September 21 and will also offer guests a myriad of educational, cultural, and entertainment events on its sidelines such as folklore troupes. In addition, there will be an ongoing visual and plastic arts exhibition in the presence of renowned artists and photographers, and a bazaar showcasing camels' breeding and feeding products, and collections.
The Crown Prince Festival for Camels is not Saudi Arabia’s only camel festival. The Kingdom is famous for its annual King Abdulaziz Festival for Camels, which was held this year in the Southern Siahed in Dahana Desert, 140 kilometers northeast of Riyadh. Its beginnings have been traced back to 1999, when a group of local Bedouins founded the festival as a competition for the most beautiful camel. It quickly gained popularity, receiving support from the royal family and transformed itself into a heritage event, attracting people from across the region, including key figures in business and politics.