The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation (SAEF) have signed a three-year Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC) to develop and expand equestrianism in AlUla.
This MoC builds on AlUla’s long history of horse-riding and equestrianism, which extends back thousands of years. Horses have been depicted in rock art and inscriptions on AlUla’s Jabal Ikmah and Jabal AlAqrah in various forms and artistic styles, and their early appearance on rock facades, dating back 8,000 years, illustrates this early relationship between humans and horses in the Arabian Peninsula.
Signed by Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah Al Saud, chairman of SAEF, and Amr AlMadani, CEO of RCU, the MoC will see the two parties develop new industries and economic opportunities around equestrianism in AlUla, in-line with RCU’s plans to promote economic diversification by drawing on the region’s heritage. This will include training programmes and new job opportunities for horse riders, coaches, competition referees, and other roles, alongside developing infrastructure including an equestrian village, racetracks, and a study of existing equestrian centers and their related assets and activities. The MoC will further support efforts to attract, organise, and sponsor new, properly regulated equestrian events at both the local and international levels.
As a first step, the MoC will see the formation of a joint RCU-SAEF working group to develop a work plan for each area of cooperation. This will ensure the provision of periodic progress reports on the implementation of its goals and identification of future opportunities for collaboration.
These efforts will sustainably boost the AlUla economy through diversification and new economic opportunities for the local community. The growth of equestrianism in AlUla also aligns with RCU’s commitment to growing grassroots level sport in the area, as well as expanding its tourism offering through adventure sports. This closely supports the RCU’s wider goals of developing AlUla as a global destination for tourism and events, with its local community at its heart, through innovative local and international partnerships.
Prince Abdullah bin Fahd, chairman of SAEF said: “We’re witnessing a boom in equestrian sports thanks to the support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, with follow-up from the Equestrian Authority Board of Directors. Furthermore, the Saudi Equestrian Federation and the Royal Commission for AlUla have had notable successes in organizing equestrian events in the AlUla governorate over the past three years. Among the most important of these is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup Endurance Race, with prizes exceeding 15 million SAR and a large number of world champions participating. This agreement between the Equestrian Federation and RCU will expand the equestrian sport base in AlUla yet further.
Amr AlMadani, CEO of RCU, added: “We’re unleashing this new collaboration to explore and unlock the potential of equestrian sports and events to create training and jobs for our community plus attractive opportunities for visitors, partners and investors together with the sporting community. The expansion of equestrianism in AlUla demonstrates the ways our heritage - both cultural and physical – remains a core asset in the sustainable, responsible and innovative development of AlUla.”
The MoC is the culmination of the existing cooperation between RCU and SAEF, which has already seen the organisations host two editions of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup (AlFursan Forum) in AlUla, one of the most globally prominent endurance races. The last edition of the two-star race covered 120 km over four rounds. The race saw the participation of 200 of the best endurance riders in the world, with 200 horses from 17 countries racing.