Revitalising Heritage Sports in AlUla

As one of the region’s most important cradles of Saudi Arabian traditions, AlUla continues to evolve as a destination rich in sporting heritage. These age-old sports are more than just games and pastimes played for entertainment, but rely on skills and practices deeply rooted in the cultural history of the Kingdom and the broader Arab world. 

The main venue for the revitalisation of these sporting customs in AlUla is the Mughayra Heritage Sports Village, which has already hosted the revival of a range of heritage sports. Falconry is one such practice that has endured for centuries throughout the region and came to AlUla as a competitive sport for the first time as the AlUla Falcon Cup. This remarkable event witnessed over 2,000 elite falconers showcasing the finest displays of falconry among AlUla's spectacular scenery – and vying for a share of an unprecedented $16 million prize pool.

The Mughayra Heritage Sports Village is also the venue for one of the region’s oldest sports – camel racing – in the form of the hugely successful AlUla Camel Cup. Last year’s inaugural edition saw this competition emerge as the pinnacle of the sport, attracting top camels from around the world to compete to be crowned the ‘Champion of Champions’. The four-day spectacle was a celebration of these majestic creatures and their incredible speed and endurance that have made them an integral part of Saudi culture across centuries.

Another pair of heritage sports deeply ingrained in the region’s cultural fabric are tied to the skills of horsemanship – horseback archery and tent pegging. Embodying the ancient skills upon which the forebears of modern-day Arabs relied, the Horseback Archery World Cup and Tent Pegging World Championships, held at the AlFursan Equestrian Village, saw a dazzling showcase of prowess and showmanship.

The local community and visitors alike also have an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in these time-honoured sports through a series of immersive workshops. In these interactive sessions, participants can try their hand at the mastery of tent pegging, which uses swords or lances, and the art of archery, allowing them to connect with the time-honoured traditions and techniques of the past.

These hands-on experiences showcase AlUla's burgeoning reputation as an authentic destination where visitors can actively engage with the culture, customs and enduring legacy of the Saudi people. Both these workshops and the opportunity to witness the revival of these time-honoured sports create a profound and personal connection to the rich heritage that continues to thrive in AlUla today, serving as a testament to the enduring spirit of this remarkable region.

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