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Saudi Arabia Hosts First Ever AlUla Falcon Cup

image courtesy of experiencealula
image courtesy of experiencealula
Written by Linda Hohnholz

AlUla continues to secure its spot as the premier heritage sport destination in a 9-day event that will attracts tourists and residents to experience a spectacular event in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

AlUla recently hosted the Horseback Archery World Cup & Tent Pegging World Championships and will continue to draw in spectators and falconers to the KSA based event taking place from December 28 to January 5 at the Mughayra Heritage Sports Village.     

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) will host the inaugural AlUla Falcon Cup, as part of its mission to preserve and honor traditional heritage sports with significant historical ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond.

From December 28 to January 5, the Mughayra Heritage Sports Village in AlUla will host a significant sporting event. This event aims to showcase the heritage, skilled techniques, and cultural traditions of falconry to a worldwide audience of falconers, tourists, and the local AlUla community.

The AlUla Falcon Cup, in its first edition, has already made history in the sport by presenting an unparalleled prize pool of SAR60m ($16m), which will be given to the champions of different categories and competitions like racing, hunting, and beauty contests. Advanced sensors are used to measure the speed and performance of falcons during races. Judges evaluate each bird based on specific criteria in beauty competitions, with the highest rating determining the winner.

The AlUla Falcon Cup will feature exciting events such as the Falcon Race Competition, which will run from 8 am to 5 pm every day, and the Falcon Mazayen show, known as the Best of Breed Falcon beauty pageant, scheduled from January 2 to January 4, from 8 pm to 10 pm.

In November, AlUla successfully hosted the Horseback Archery World Cup and Tent Pegging World Championships at the AlFursan Equestrian Village. The event was a collaboration between the Saudi Arabia Equestrian Federation (SAEF) and World Horseback Archery Federation (WHAF). It highlighted AlUla as a center for traditional equestrian and heritage sports, supporting RCU’s goal of diversifying the economy and honoring the customs and culture of northwest Arabia.

These events draw a significant and devoted audience of both local and international spectators and participants to AlUla.

Saudi Arabia has a rich heritage in both falconry and equestrian sports. The Arabian horse breed has its origins in the Kingdom, and horse riding holds great significance in Saudi culture and athletics. Falconry, which has been practiced for centuries, is deeply rooted in the lives of people throughout the region. Presently, falconers demonstrate their mastery over these magnificent birds by employing time-honored techniques passed down through generations, primarily for contests.

The AlUla Falcon Cup provides a chance to exhibit the Saudi identity and highlight AlUla’s increasing prominence as the top choice for heritage sports and competitions. Participants from nearby nations and beyond will participate in the event, while onlookers will have the opportunity to engage in various activities. The Mughayra Heritage Sports Village offers an exciting, immersive, and family-oriented experience for spectators.

RCU Chief of Sport, Ziad Al Suhaibani, said:

“Our community in AlUla, as well as people from across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, share a deep passion for traditional sports such as falconry, horseback riding, camel racing and more. Enjoyed nowadays for the spectacle, thrills, and skills on display, heritage sports were once vital to life around the region. By celebrating their enduring appeal, RCU is strengthening AlUla’s status as the premier destination to promote the culture, customs, and legacy of our ancestors.”

“The inaugural AlUla Falcon Cup will be 9 days of spectacular action showcasing the unique bond that can exist between birds and humans, with some of the most talented falconers and beautiful falcons on show, while the addition of a total prize pot of SAR60m ($16m), which is unprecedented in the sport of falconry, will add another level of excitement to the contest.”