With the opening ceremony of the 2017 King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is set to take place on Sunday, Darat King Abdulaziz, which is organizing the festival, has announced an array of exciting entertainment and specially designed activities for visitors and participants who are expected to come from the region and beyond.
The King Abdulaziz Festival Camels Competition, often referred to as Miss Camel globally, is an annual heritage festival held in Rimah, a governorate in Riyadh province. It was founded in 1999 by a group of local Bedouins who decided to host a competition for the most beautiful camel.
The competition went on to receive support from the Saudi royal family. Due to its rising popularity, it was turned into a heritage festival with people from across the Gulf traveling to showcase their finest camels. Celebrating the culture and way of life of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bedouin traditions, today the festival attracts thousands of camels and their owners.
Darat King Abdulaziz has announced that it will issue 10,000 visas to people from all around the world wishing to attend the festival. People who like to attend the festival can visit Saudi embassies and consulates to apply for the visas.
The organizers also confirmed over 25 million pounds (SR115 million) in prize money for the winning camels. They expressed their determination to make the festival one of the biggest national celebrations of its kind not only in the Gulf region but throughout the world.
The festival includes initiatives to raise awareness and celebrate core regional cultural and heritage practices. The organizers will also utilize the latest in technology and creative concepts to offer a memorable and fun-filled festival, not be missed by friends and family anywhere in the world.
At the core of the festival will be the much-celebrated camel. The new slogan for the annual festival is “Camels are Civilization”, which reflects the uniting role the camel has played for the Saudi kingdom throughout its history.
Known as the ship of the desert, over centuries the camels played an essential role in day-to-day life for people of the region. Camels are referred to in religious texts and ancient poetry in various economic, political and social contexts. They used to be a source of food and drink, transport, and a trading pillar, as well as a source of pride and a symbol of loyalty. The festival recognizes and highlights their importance through an eclectic mix of traditional festivities, competitions and heritage activities along with an array of newly discovered entertainment.
Explore other worlds at the Astronomy Dome installation, which is in homage to the use of stars and other cosmic phenomena in navigating one’s way through the desert.
A glass dome equipped with the latest technology including the best in telescopes, the instillation allows astronomy amateurs to stargaze into the night, learn about the galaxies, stars and cosmic landscape with special briefings from professional astronomers, make observations of planets, stars, galaxies and to learn how to use the science of astronomy in the desert.
Hoyair the Cartoon Camel
Playing on the name of a baby camel, the festival has introduced an interactive cartoon camel character. Hoyair is an honest, respected, loyal, funny and humble character reflecting a likeness to the noble characteristics of a real camel.
Hoyair will be present throughout a diverse range of workshops aimed at the younger festival attendees, with the aim of building a bond with the heritage and culture among the young generations. Workshops include painting, Arabic calligraphy, drawing, sculpturing, origami, story telling, theater performances with authentic costumes, camel competition jewelry and cloth accessory design, an authentic camel book library, science experiments including building your own volcano, competitions and much more.
Sanam Exhibition and the Souk
For those in search of some more culture take a stroll through the impressive souk with over 100 stalls that will include heritage and cultural offerings such as leather goods, perfumes, spices, tents, artisans, tapestries, traditional food and elaborate decorations. Or for a sense of the history of the festival and camels take a journey through time at the Sanam Exhibition, an engaging exhibition exploring elements in time and the role of the camel.
Camel Auction and Carnival
Camel auctions will take place within a luxurious and VIP area specially set aside for trading. The latest technology and bank services will be on site to ensure a seamless approach to auctioning. For those looking to learn more about the camel or riding one, head to the Camel Carnival to see camels in traditional decoration and where professional camel handlers are on hand to aid with top riding tips.
In celebration of local arts and talent, King Abudulaziz Festival will host a mix of competitions relating to building awareness of the arts.
These include a poetry competition with up to 3 million pounds in prize money, a photography competition in collaboration with the National Geographic to choose the best festival and camel image captured, and an award from the Saudi Art Association for the most beautiful abstract camel painting.
This article was first published on the Saudi Gazette.