ALULA: The AlUla Camel Cup, the pinnacle of camel racing, saw two Emirati brothers claim final day glory — with one camel winning the SR7.5 million ($1.9 million) Heil race and another the Zmoul race with the same prize money.
Held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla, the four-day event was organized by the RCU as part of the AlUla Moments calendar in collaboration with the Saudi Camel Racing Federation.
On the final day of competition, female camels aged 6 and above competed in the one-round, 8-kilometer Heil race, while male camels aged 6 and above competed in the one-round, 8-kilometer Zmoul contest.
In the Zmoul race, Mubher, the camel owned by Hamad Rashid Hamad Ghadeer Alkatbi, from the UAE, came in first while in the Heil race, his brother Saeed Rashid Hamad Ghadeer Alkatbi triumphed thanks to the exploits of Fabrakah.
Mohammed Rashid Hamad Ghadeer Alkatbi, the elder brother of Hamad and Saeed, and part of the family’s camel racing team, spoke on behalf of the family. “AlUla Camel Cup has the highest prize pots per run of camel racing, but our real win is being amongst our brothers, and being here with our brothers from the Kingdom in this beautiful land. Putting all that together is priceless.
“We made sure to take part in this amazing event because it is special — it is special because the camels participating have won other notable camel races. All of them have a good track record,” he said.
“I dedicate this win to the Kingdom, its leadership, amazing people, and the reception, hospitality, and generosity from the organizers of the AlUla Camel Cup. They have made us feel at home and we are at home because of the strong ties between us.”
As well as the prize pot for the family, each winner was presented with a specially designed trophy crafted from hallmark sterling silver and 24-carat gold plate.
Amr AlMadani, CEO of the RCU, said: “The concluding day’s action saw a befitting finale to the inaugural AlUla Camel Cup, which has been a traditional yet innovative part of AlUla’s growth story.
“The AlUla Camel Cup has paid spectacular homage to the traditional sport of camel racing, which has been a feature on Saudi Arabian soil since the seventh century. It is a beloved pastime — a national sporting treasure — that has become etched in the culture and heritage of the Kingdom,” he added.
Attendees on the final day of racing included Oscar winning actor Will Smith and Grammy Award winning music producer Swizz Beatz. The two friends watched Friday’s racing at the AlUla Camel Cup in the company of Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, and Phillip Jones, chief tourism officer of the RCU.
As well as elite racing, the AlUla Camel Racing Venue also featured a Heritage Village with traditional arts and crafts, fashion, retail, dining and entertainment.
Saudi superstar singer Rabeh Saqer, known for songs including “Ya Nasiem Al-Lail,” “Maghroura” and “Montaha Alreqa,” performed at the closing ceremony on Friday night in front of an adoring crowd.