JEDDAH: In Saudi Arabia’s southernmost point, there is renewed fervor in the otherwise docile town of Sharurah, Najran province.
Camel racing in the region’s famous Empty Quarter is a renowned legacy among the area’s ancient tribes, which were said to have heavily relied on camels in times of war.
Camel racing on these plains dates as far back as 2000 BC, according to historians. Now, thousands of years later, the sport has returned.
Al-Omairi Al-Manhali, a tribal member in the Empty Quarter, said the sport has made a decisive comeback thanks to the passion of long-time residents and the natural beauty of the area, which now hosts big races and the world’s most impressive camels.
Abdul Aziz Al-Saaiari, a camel owner who has taken part in many races, said the country is going through a renaissance in tourism and entertainment thanks to a renewed interest in heritage and the region’s authenticity.
“On the golden desert plains of the Empty Quarter, tribes have been working hard to cultivate modernized sports programs that can attract international investors to this awe-inspiring scene of natural beauty,” he said.
Suleiman Massaad, a camel owner who takes a special interest in the races, said that what makes them stand out is the support of municipal authorities, Najran’s horse council and the country’s camel federation.