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The Saudi Cup 2021: A Culture-Fused Horse Racing Spectacle

We’re trackside ready as the second edition of the prestigious annual event kicks off…

The Saudi World Cup, the Kingdom’s flagship racing event, is kicking off today with loads of exciting accompaniments set to make this year’s edition a stellar immersive cultural one. The esteemed two-day event, with a total of eight races, sees distinguished guests from the world’s horse racing community gathering to watch the world’s greatest equestrian talent. And as they sit trackside during the exciting races at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack, situated near Riyadh, the enduring relationship between horses, culture and art is being celebrated.

Saudi Cup and Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia

With a prize fund of over US$30 million, the largest purse of any horse race in the world, the event this year recognises the important role horses have played throughout the Kingdom’s history. And the Ministry of Culture, with support from its sector commissions, has curated an experience to celebrate this link.

“The Saudi Cup is one of the most anticipated and prestigious events in the Kingdom’s racing calendar,” a Ministry of Culture Spokesperson said. “We are delighted to be showcasing elements of the Kingdom’s cultural identity here at the Saudi Cup by highlighting some of our finest fashion, culinary, music and artistic talent.”

He added the ministry, which is seeking to bolster the presence of Saudi heritage and culture at events across the Kingdom, was inspired to mix Saudi’s rich heritage with today’s talent and creativity.

The Fashion
Race meetings are always a major highlight in the fashion calendar so this year the Ministry’s Fashion Commission has collaborated with fashion heritage expert Dr Laila Albassam and illustrator Norah Sahman to design a special dress code for the Royal Enclosure. Racegoers are being invited to celebrate Saudi culture by dressing in outfits inspired by traditional Saudi heritage costumes.

“This year’s dress code embodies the Kingdom’s unique identity, allowing racegoers to express individuality while celebrating our collective heritage,” a spokesperson for the commission said. “It’s clear to see the myriad influences the Kingdom’s rich history has had on the strong identity we celebrate today.”

Fashion Commission, Ministry of Culture & Norah Sahman

With Saudi Arabia boasting some of the region’s most notable fashion designers, events like this are great to celebrate and highlight all the fabulous talent.

The Music
Additionally, guests are being treated to a musical soundtrack performed by some of the Kingdom’s most accomplished musicians, alongside performers from the UK and Egypt. The soundtrack was recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London and at studios in Cairo and Jeddah. The Music Commission has organised a special musical interlude written especially for the event by celebrated Saudi composer Mamdouh Saif. The piece is inspired by the different stages of a horse race and is being played at the beginning of each race as the horses are loaded into the stalls.

The Art
With the years 2020 and 2021 designated as the ‘Year of Arabic Calligraphy’, guests are able to view this ancient art form across both venues of the Saudi Cup. At the Arabic Calligraphy Corner, racegoers are being invited to try their hand at creating ornate designs. Additionally, all winners are being presented with winners’ rugs adorned with Arabic calligraphy.

To see more information about the varied cultural activities happening at the Saudi Cup visit:

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