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File picture used for illustration purpose only.Reuters

Saudi Arabia has bagged a Guinness World Record by hosting the world's largest camel sports festival, with the participation of a whopping 12,000 camels from different parts of the world, especially from the Arab region.

The owners of the animals at the Taif camel sports festival, which is being conducted between September 1 and 14, are competing for 439 categories of prizes worth a total of $11.2 million.

The festival, aimed at showcasing and promoting the camel-racing heritage of the Kingdom and the Gulf Arab countries, is expected to turn the Saudi city of Taif into one of the top tourist destinations in the country, according to an Arab News report.

The Ship Of The Desert

Backed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the festival aims to promote the cultural importance of camels - the mammals that are also known as "the ship of the desert".

There are several items, including a marathon, haraer, international and Sudanese, and a large number of local and international owners competing for the first position. The Saudi Camel Racing Federation, which is organising the festival, aims to meet the aspirations of camel owners and fans across the world.

Camels are an important part of Saudi and its roots can be traced back to the Bedouin culture that originated centuries ago. Nowadays, camels are a symbol of the local culture, as well as an attraction for tourists to ride.

In recent times, camel racing has become a traditional sport in the Gulf and preparing a camel to race takes effort and time.

Taif, a Saudi province, has one of the oldest camel breeding culture in the Arab world and the region is also known for its unique sites, moderate climate, adventure sports and heritage.

Of late, camel markets in Taif have witnessed a marked increase in prices of the animal, with many animal owners benefiting from participating in races to promote their stock. More than 400 mountain peaks, extending from west to southeast of Taif dominate the landscape which, along with numerous historical sites, help make it an important destination for Arabs during the summer.

Taif is also home to the ancient Okaz market located at the crossroads of historical trade and Hajj routes, and the old camel road linking it to Makkah through Al-Hada mountains is another attraction.

Tourist Attraction

By drawing tourists from all over the world with its varied attractions and events, Taif has made a big contribution to driving tourism in the Kingdom.

As part of the festival, the authorities have unveiled a giant model of the revered animal, which has a height of 4.65 meters and a width of 10 meters. A towering illuminated sculpture of the camel has snagged the Guinness World Record for being the largest ever made.