The world’s richest horse race culminated on February 20, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman awarded the Saudi Cup to the Saudi-owned Mishriff. The two-day event brought together distinguished guests from the global horse racing community at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse for what was also a celebration of Saudi Arabia‘s rich sartorial heritage.
This year, the Fashion Commission at the Ministry of Culture joined forces with fashion heritage expert Dr Laila Albassam and illustrator Norah Sahman to create a dress code for the Saudi Cup’s very own Royal Enclosure, similar to that of the Royal Ascot. Racegoers were invited to celebrate the Kingdom’s culture by dressing in their finest threads inspired by traditional Saudi clothing.
According to Albassam — who also led an all-Saudi team behind Vogue Arabia’s December 2020 cover shoot showcasing traditional dresses from the Kingdom’s provinces — the dress code covered five areas. While women could choose from each region’s distinct maqtaa, thobe, and abaya, options for the men were the daqla and saya. As for the headwear, women were encouraged to wear straw hats inspired by the Asir region’s heritage, or an embroidered and draped headdress worn by brides.
“Saudi Arabia’s fashion heritage is rich and colorful. The Fashion Commission is pleased to have produced the dress code for The Saudi Cup 2021, as a wonderful platform to showcase Saudi heritage,” shared HH Princess Noura bint Faisal with Vogue Arabia. “Our hope is that this work will inspire a contemporary generation to look to the past and, by understanding and referencing it, they will create clothes that embrace Saudi’s heritage and build a narrative for its future.”
Of the racegoers who embraced the dress code in vibrant ensembles, Princess Noura said, “It has been very rewarding to see so many attendees to the Saudi Cup this weekend put great effort into their outfits, all inspired by the Kingdom’s rich fashion heritage!” She added: “The Fashion Commission’s dress code feels like it’s renewing our enthusiasm to embrace the future by celebrating the past.”
Click through the gallery below to see some of the best outfits from the Saudi Cup 2021.