Saudi Crown Prince arrives in Jordan as regional tour continues
RIYADH: The animal most closely associated with Saudi Arabia took center stage on Wednesday as the Kingdom joined global celebrations to mark World Camel Day.
Camels have been the companion of man for thousands of years as they have played a vital role in the flourishing of ancient cultures.
World Camel Day on June 22 aims to chart the future of the desert animal by educating people about its history, as well as improving its living environment so that people can fully enjoy its products.
Fahd bin Hithleen, president of the Saudi Camel Club, said the day helps remind people of the camel’s role in their lives.
Bin Hithleen, who also founded the International Camel Organization, said that since the organization’s inception, efforts have been made to remind people of the importance of camels and to promote a “culture of camel care”.
The Saudi Camel Club hopes to capitalize on World Camel Day by connecting owners in the Kingdom with their counterparts around the world, opening the door to greater international participation in the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival.
Camel owners from France, the United States and Mexico participated in the open international round of the previous edition of the festival, with some winning prizes.
According to bin Hithleen, the Saudi Camel Club has paved the way for a “thriving economic sector that benefits camel owners, opens up great markets for them, provides them with veterinary equipment and preserves rare breeds”.
ICO, a non-profit organization based in Riyadh, was founded in 2019 and has around 105 member countries worldwide.
Mohammed Al-Ruwaili, a member of the Abdulrahman Al-Sudairy Cultural Center, said camels have played a central role in the economic and cultural life of the people of the Arabian Peninsula, especially those who live in desert regions.
Al-Ruwaili, who is also a board member of the Al-Jouf Literary and Cultural Club, highlighted the “pioneering initiative” launched by the late Emir of Al-Jouf, Prince Abdulrahman Al-Sudairi , hosting the Kingdom’s first organized camel race in 1963.
Abdullah Alsharekh, who works in the department of archeology at King Saud University, said camels have been a cultural, economic and national symbol of Arabia for thousands of years.
“The camel was a survival tool for the inhabitants of Arabia and its desolate lands. It was a source of food, a means of transport and a vehicle used in warfare and hunting expeditions,” he said.
“A camel was carved in its natural size in the region of Al-Jouf, which has come to be considered the oldest life-size carved camel in the world.”
He said thousands of rock art carvings and drawings on the mountains of Saudi Arabia testify to the historic movement of people for trade, pilgrimage and travel across Arabia and beyond.
Camel herding and ownership is still practiced today, with herders maintaining detailed pedigrees.
Alsharekh said camels continue to play a major role in modern society through animal husbandry and as a source of meat, as well as traditional crafts and materials.
Talal Al-Sharhan, chairman of the Association of Heritage Ambassadors, said camels have a long and glorious history for Saudis in particular and for Arabs in general.
“They are a source of income, and Arabs in the past relied on them, and continue to enjoy and cherish them. Camels are mentioned in the Holy Quran,” he said.
Al-Sharhan added, “A nation without history has no future, and those who have no connection to their past will be unable to build their future.”