Cairo: Around 1.8 million fans flocked to Saudi Arabia’s major camel pageant in its latest edition that ran for 45 days near the capital Riyadh, officials have said.
The seventh edition of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicked off on November 29 and featured a new SR2 million prize named “The Founder’s Sword” awarded to the contestant who collected the highest points.
The closing ceremony of the event was held Friday night with the attendance of Riyadh Governor Faisal bin Bandar, who honoured the winners in different categories.
Prizes offered at the festival, staged north of Riyadh, were worth nearly SR300 million, spokesman for the pageant Mohammed Al Harbi told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya.
A total of 35,000 camels competed in the seventh edition of the festival against 24,000 in the sixth edition, Chairman of the Saudi Camel Club, Fahd bin Hathleen, said at the closing gala.
He added that the number of participants rose from 1,900 to 2,200 in the latest edition.
“The Camel Club aims to convert the sector into an integrated economic system,” he said.
Saudi Arabia annually hosts the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, the world’s biggest such pageant.
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.
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.
Earlier last year, a 120-room hotel for camels was unveiled in Saudi Arabia, becoming the world’s first such facility.
More than 50 people attend to camels at the unique hotel offering room service, housekeeping, camel care and guarding to the animal.
The hotel also offers five-star services including serving meals, hot milk, and taking care of camels’ appearance, officials in the business said.