• Heritage Village embraces ancient and modern arts and culture from AlUla
• Hailah Al Enezi, 60, weaves goods from camel, sheep and goat wool, a skill passed down in her family from generation to generation
• She said: ‘It’s a legacy, it’s a heritage, and I would never let these traditions die’
ALULA, 16 March 2023: The AlUla Camel Cup has a traditional Heritage Village at the revamped AlUla Camel Racing Venue that fuses traditional and modern, sporting and cultural, and elemental and opulent.
Held under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), the inaugural AlUla Camel Cup reaches a finale on Friday, with the main prizes being awarded.
Organised by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) as part of the AlUla Moments calendar in collaboration with the Saudi Camel Racing Federation (SCRF), The AlUla Camel Cup however, is far more than sport, embracing aspects of AlUla’s rich heritage and culture.
Hailah Al Enezi is selling traditional woven goods such as sadu carpets, rugs, pillow and cushion covers, and decorations for abayas and camels under her Bint Albadiyah – Girl of the Desert – label at the Heritage Village’s Al Qafila Market.
The skilled AlUla-born 60-year-old, who also helps train youngsters in the traditional art, began her work at the age of 12, with the techniques she learned passed down from her mother, who similarly also learned from her mother.
Al Enezi, who uses camel, sheep and goat wool in her work, and whose daughter assists her, said: “It’s a legacy, it’s a heritage, and I would never let these traditions die. We have a rich gift in our country, and I will always share my knowledge with anyone who wants to learn.”
She added: “Events that RCU are organising such as the AlUla Camel Cup are very important to AlUla. We are given space to sell our wares at the Heritage Village. Camel racing is part of our heritage and culture, but just as important as camel racing are our traditional arts and crafts.”
The Al Qafila market offers an eclectic mix of locally made souvenirs and handicrafts.
Hanadi Abu Kasheem, also born and bred in AlUla, is featuring her Abaq brand – which means ‘Essence’ – at the Al Qafila Market, and sells handmade items such as soap, creams, candles, lip salve, and henna.
The brand has been going for one year after she taught herself by learning online. Being able to create a recent request for soap with the essence from the milk of a goat left her particularly satisfied.
Abu Kasheem said: “This is my passion. The AlUla Camel Cup is very good. I’ve already had many visitors from outside AlUla buying my products.”
Just across from the Al Qafila strip in the Heritage Village, 30-year-old Bayan Saud, also originating from AlUla , sells pottery, such as coffee cups and decorative vases, from her own-named Bayan brand. She spent two years perfecting her craft at Madrasat Addeera, the arts school in AlUla Old Town.
Saud said: “It is my passion and an integral part of our culture. I find a lot of my work is bought by the younger generation, who are embracing the traditions of the past. It is very interesting to be able to sell our products at the AlUla Camel Cup to people from all over the world.”
The Heritage Village also offers immersive experiences such as watching live camels and learning about their incredible feats and attributes, painting camel monuments, henna, calligraphy, sand bottling, and sand art areas.
For dining in the wonderful setting of the village, there is a diversity of choices from burgers to traditional Saudi food and snacks such as popcorn, ice-cream, and kunafa.
People from far away from AlUla have also come to showcase their creations.
Designer Salhah Al Shahrani’s Therahdresses label specialises in beautifully decorated abayas. Originally from the green mountains of Abha but now in Al Khobar, she was thrilled to have an opportunity to swap the green mountains for the desert mountains of the Hijaz for the big event. Her 15-year-old cousin Rand Baniali has put a smile on the faces of AlUla Cup attendees by modelling three different and spectacularly designed outfits per day – one in the morning, afternoon, and evening – during the AlUla Camel Cup.
Al Shahrani said: “The AlUla Camel Cup has been so good and the Heritage Village such a good addition.”
Whether your interests are camel racing, the Heritage Village, or both, there is still time to be among the fortunate attendees at the AlUla Camel Cup, the pinnace of camel racing.