Cairo: Saudi Arabia has designated 2024 as the Year of Camels amid growing interest in the kingdom in preserving national and Arabian heritage.
Camels are a popular animal closely linked to heritage in Saudi Arabia. The animal has long been dubbed as the “ship of the desert”, being the lifeline for desert dwellers.
The designation decision was taken on Tuesday at a meeting of the Saudi Council of Ministers headed by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
The gesture drew plaudits from Saudi Minister of Culture Badr bin Abdullah, saying it “celebrates the unique cultural value” of camels in the life of Arabians.
The Ministry of Culture will supervise the Year of Camels events whereby the ministry will seek to highlight the value of camels and association with the Saudi identity, according to the Saudi news agency SPA.
The events will take the shape of diverse programmes and initiatives to be undertaken by the ministry in cooperation with partners to consolidate national efforts to develop the camel sector, it added.
In recent years, the camel business has remarkably grown in the kingdom.
There are around 1.8 million camels with a market value of over SR50 billion in Saudi Arabia, according to official figures.
The kingdom annually hosts the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, one of the world’s largest in the field.
The eighth edition of the pageant is underway north east of Riyadh. The festival has become a major cultural, tourist, entertainment and economic happening with its competitions and concomitant activities that attract fans from the region and around the world. This year’s edition runs until mid-January.