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Celebrating The Cultural Icon In Vogue Arabia’s Saudi Issue: The Arabian Camel

Highlighting the significance of these majestic creatures, Saudi Arabia names 2024 the Year of the Camel

Photo: Elio Nougueira

Saudi Arabia named 2024 The Year of the Camel. Its aim is to consolidate the ancient relationship between Saudi society and camels and promote international cultural exchange, honoring the “value that camels represent in the lives of the people of the Arabian Peninsula from the dawn of history until now,” says the Ministry of Culture. Through poems, folklore, proverbs, and epic stories, the relationship between camels and man has been inspiring for centuries. A loyal and honorable companion, camels have served to cross long distances, becoming an essential element to Saudi life and identity. The domestication of the dromedary, or one-humped camel, around 3000 to 2000 BCE, revolutionized life for nomadic Bedouins living in the desert. Camels, able to endure long periods without water, could carry heavy loads, provide milk, meat, and hide. They also facilitated trade routes that connected the Arabian Peninsula with distant regions. The camels were integral to facilitating cultural exchanges and the prosperity of ancient civilizations.

Year of the Camel

Photo: Getty

The Saudi Minister of Culture, His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, writes, “They are the ship of the desert on which our ancestors depended for their settlement and travel.” He continues that the “Year of the Camel comes in the context of national efforts to pay attention to camels and the industries associated with them, from a development and economic perspective. Our role in the Ministry of Culture is to add a cultural dimension to this high national interest, and to look at camels from a cultural perspective that reflects their high status in the world.”

Today, camels are valued and deeply respected. Camel racing attracts international devotion. Meanwhile, the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival – one of the largest in the world – features camel beauty contests, races, and auctions. While the Saudi government works to preserve and promote camel heritage with initiatives to support camel breeders and improve the animals’ health, Saudi youth are recognizing them as modern-day symbols of resilience. Minister Al Saud notes that they are “a very important cultural value and a major pillar of our authentic national identity. It is a source of pride that we cherish in every forum and field.”

Originally published in the June 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

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