Popular types of leisure activities include horse/camel racing and falconry. Sports, adventure and recreation in Saudi Arabia is an indispensable part of the day-to-day lifestyle of the Saudi Arabians. Some of these sports are included in Saudi Arabia’s famous festivals like the annual Jenadriyah National Culture and Heritage Festival which includes camel racing.
Camels from around the country are brought to the sporting ground for the race. Camel racing is much more than just a sporting event to the Saudis; it is a token of honour. The winning camel is worth thousands of riyals and also brings pride to both the trainer and its owner. Thus, competition and rivalry among the camel owners is intense. Camel races are often held in the King Fahd International Stadium during winters. King’s Camel Race, the world’s largest camel race is held there too, attracting spectators from worldwide.
Falconry is yet another traditional sport which originated centuries ago. The Art of Falconry is a challenging feat and it is time consuming as the falconer must tame the falcon. Training a falcon is time-consuming and requires enormous patience since the falconer must carry the bird on his arm for several hours each day. The falcon hunting season in Saudi Arabia is from October to March. The two most popular falcons are the Saker and the Peregrine.
Soccer has become one of the most popular modern sports among Saudis of all ages, from children scrimmaging on play- grounds to international matches battled out in spectacular modern stadiums. Friends and families often watch at home or at stadiums to embrace their love for this sport and to support their favorite teams. The professional Saudi soccer league is wildly popular among Saudis. The highlight of the Saudi soccer league is its championship tournament known as the King’s Cup. Fans also enthusiastically follow the Saudi Arabian national soccer team in World Cup competition.
The interest shown by the Saudi Arabian people in the sport of golf has also been growing ever since about twenty years ago. Saudi Arabia has a number of first-class golf courses. One of them is the Dirab Golf Course, found in Riyadh in the Dirab valley. It is Saudi Arabia’s first ever 18 holes championship quality golf course, situated near the Mountain Escarpment of Tuwaiq.
Saudis enjoy a wide range of leisure activities. Families can relax at hundreds of parks, campsites, picnic grounds and other facilities throughout the country. Long stretches of coast and spectacular coral reefs make water sports such as snorkeling and wind surfing accessible. Saudi Arabia has established a network of national parks and reserves. One of the most prominent national parks in Saudi Arabia is the 1.1 million acre Asir National Park where visitors can hike, camp, climb hills and enjoy other outdoor activities. Saudi Arabia’s largest protectorate is Al Khunfah, where visitors can observe wildlife such as gazelles and Oryx in their natural habitats. In the cities, people can relax in hundreds of urban parks. There are 50 public parks in Riyadh. The waterfront of Jeddah and Dammam are also popular places for picnics, swimming, fishing and other water sports. Camping is a popular activity among Saudis. Families pitch tents in the middle of the desert, along the coast or in one of Saudi Arabia’s parks, and enjoy the beauty of nature. These camping trips are popular during the Eid holidays and for family reunions, especially after the rainy season when the desert blooms.
Saudi Arabia is home to a variety of animals including the Arabian Oryx, a type of antelope native to the Arabian Peninsula that roams freely in Saudi Arabia’s large desert. Other animals found in Saudi Arabia include gazelles, the ibex (a type of wild mountain goat) the bustard, and the swift saluki hound, a dog named for an ancient city in southern Arabia. The saluki is generally considered to be the world’s oldest domesticated dog. The famous purebred Arabian horse is one of the most popular breeds in the world; with a bloodline that dates back thousands of years. The Arabian’s fine shape and extraordinary stamina and speed make it ideal for racing and breeding. There are also many camels in Saudi Arabia. They have been used as a means of transportation for thousands of years. Today, camel racing is a popular sport. Saudi Arabia has taken major steps to preserve its native wild and marine life and established preserves.