Friday, February 23, 2024

AlUla Camel Cup offers elite camel racing, desert-inspired fashion, ancient culture, heritage fused with modernity

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AlUla Camel Cup winners to receive custom trophy crafted from hallmarked sterling silver, 24-carat gold plate

ALULA: The winners of the inaugural AlUla Camel Cup will receive a specially designed trophy crafted from hallmarked sterling silver and a 24-carat gold plate, two priceless awards revealed at a press conference on Tuesday to officially launch the tournament.

Held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla, the elite competition runs at the new AlUla Camel Racing Venue until Friday.

The AlUla Camel Cup is organized by RCU as part of the AlUla Moments calendar in collaboration with the Saudi Camel Racing Federation.

Two glorious pieces of silverware will be presented to the winners of Friday’s “Heil” and “Zmoul” races. Befitting a tournament with a unique fusion of modern and ancient, the main AlUla Camel Cup trophies have been meticulously created to incorporate camels, rock art, the desert and AlUla by the craftsmen at Thomas Lyte.

The London-based, Royal Warrant holders are luxury silversmiths and goldsmiths who design and manufacture elite sporting presentation prizes including the Emirates FA Cup, Guinness Six Nations Trophy, and the Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Cup.

“The genius of the majestic, main trophies is that they have been created with traditional skills combined with modern methods. Some of the skills predate Roman times and have been incorporated with state-of-the-art techniques such as 3D printing, scanning, and engraving,” said Kevin Baker, founder and CEO at Thomas Lyte.

He added: “At Thomas Lyte, we feel this is particularly apt for AlUla and the AlUla Camel Cup, an event that very much reflects the merging of tradition and modernity. Trevor Brown, our lead designer, has worked exclusively with the team at RCU and AlUla Moments, and we have relished the fantastic challenge of embracing taking thousands of years and bringing them to life in these resplendent modern-era trophies.”

The exquisitely designed AlUla Camel Cup champion trophies took around four months for the skilled craftsmen at Thomas Lyte to complete. Created at one of the largest silver workshops in Europe, hundreds of man-hours and some 27 individuals were involved in the different aspects of bringing the beautiful silverware to life.

The trophy unveiling at the AlUla Camel Racing Venue press conference helped officially launch the AlUla Camel Cup, for which 16 pieces of silverware in total have been created by Thomas Lyte.

The specially designed trophy crafted from hallmarked sterling silver and a 24-carat gold plate. supplied

Rami Al-Moallim, vice president, destination management and marketing at RCU, said: “The splendid trophies are a fitting reward for triumphing at the AlUla Camel Cup, one of the flagship events of the AlUla Moments events calendar. Through this platform, AlUla offers a diverse range of festivals and occasions throughout the year to celebrate AlUla’s rich cultural heritage, including art, culture, music, nature, wellness and sports, such as the historically significant activity of camel racing.”

Each winner of the six “Marathon” races on the first day of action will be presented with a silver vase. Each winner of the eight races on days two and three — two 4km “Hagayeg” and two 5km “Lagaya” races on Wednesday and two 6km “Jiza” and two 8km “Thanaya” races on Thursday — win a beautiful dish.

On the final day of racing, camels aged 6 years and above compete in “Heil,” a one-round, 8km race, and “Zmoul,” also a one-round, 8km race. Each champion owner will be presented with a stunning AlUla Camel Cup.

Mohammed Hammad Al-Balawi, vice president of the Saudi Camel Racing Federation and secretary-general of the International Camel Federation, said: “Camel racing holds a significant place in traditional Saudi and Arabic culture as it is an ancient sport that has been passed down through generations.

“Camels carried the hopes and ambitions of our ancestors and are apt creatures to symbolize Saudi Arabia moving forward. Camel racing will always be an integral part of Saudi Arabia — in the past, present and future — and the AlUla Camel Cup is the next step on our distinguished journey.”

The press conference also heard how AlUla’s sports strategy focuses on four key objectives: community sports, talent development and elite performance, sports events and sports facilities.

Ziad Al-Suhaibani, head of the sports executive program at RCU, said: “AlUla is a growing destination for world-class sporting activities and has hosted sporting events this season, including the Saudi Tour, AlUla Trail Race, AlUla Endurance Cup, and today the beginning of the first-ever AlUla Camel Cup. These sporting events play a major part in the country’s transformation aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, in keeping with AlUla’s commitment to sustainable and responsible development.”

More than 40 of the region’s finest racing camels have qualified for the AlUla Camel Cup at the refurbished AlUla Camel Racing Venue.

Nizar Fakhoury, executive director of destination development, destination management and marketing at RCU, said: “While a track has existed here since the early 1990s — and was the fourth camel racing venue in Saudi Arabia — this new, revamped, state-of-the-art venue is a fitting host for the AlUla Camel Cup. In addition to the four-day competition, the venue…will further support the future development of camel racing in the region.

“All of our infrastructure projects at AlUla — of which this is the biggest — are focused on blending seamlessly into the landscape. Our tourism is as much about the environment and sites as it is diversifying the economy.”

As well as elite racing, the AlUla Camel Cup also comprises fashion, retail offerings, and dining outlets. There is still time to be among the fortunate attendees at the AlUla Camel Cup. Single-day tickets for the event, priced at SR 50 ($13), remain available at: https://tickets.experiencealula.com/en/experiences/alula-camel-cup-pass

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