Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: As the ancient heritage of camel farming transforms into a full-fledged industry, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia emerges as a global epicenter driving this vital animal wealth in its journey from being a cultural symbol to becoming the center of the “global camel economics.”
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has succeeded in reshaping the global movement in the camel sector as never before. Through its establishment of the International Camel Organization (ICO) in March 2019, the Kingdom has been rallying global efforts and making immense contributions to institutionalize camel care.
With over 100 member countries, the Riyadh-based non-profit organization is addressing all issues related to camels as a heritage in order to promote the camel industry worldwide. So far, ICO has successfully organized several events and initiatives dedicated to restructure the industry on a large-scale and spread awareness of the camel heritage worldwide, including holding the first camel owners’ conference in Europe (October 2019) and accompanying the establishment of the European Society of Camel Owners in Switzerland. More recently, ICO held a conference dedicated to promoting camel breeding across Central Asia economies as a way to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in those countries.
Under the leadership of its founder and Chairman Fahd bin Falah bin Hathleen, ICO has spearheaded international efforts to communicate the culture behind the camel industry. ICO’s efforts have been focused on increasing field studies related to camel care and finding appropriate solutions to the problems facing the farm owners, while encouraging the establishment of new farms, as well as building an international database on camel care. ICO’s activities are anticipated to create an ideal system that will herald a new era for camel farming as an effective economic and investment field.
While camel farming has always been a deep-rooted tradition in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s efforts to institutionalize the industry have just begun after being debuted in 2017 with the establishment of the Saudi Camel Club under the chairmanship of Fahd bin Hathleen. Earlier, in 2015, the Kingdom had launched King Abdul Aziz Camel festival, an annual event for celebrating the camel heritage. Today, the 44-day festival is being held at Al Sayahid Al Janoubia, 120 km from the capital, Riyadh. The festival, spanning from December 1 until mid-January 2021, brings together camel lovers from all over the world to join its activities that include racing, best-looking camel awards, auctions, and camel training.
“We will show them how they can make a lot of money from camels, how it can be a profitable business for them; we have many surprises to share with camel owners around the world.” Perhaps this promise by the Chairman of ICO and the Saudi Camel Club – during his meeting with the European camel owners on the sidelines of the King Abdul Aziz Camel festival last year – says much about the Saudi leadership’s goals for the global camel industry, and the exciting business opportunities this promising field could unlock.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is gaining momentum for the regional & international effort to organize the camel industry in unconventional ways. In March 2019, the Kingdom witnessed the foundation of the International Organization of Camels (IOC), a Riyadh-based, non-profit organization with over 100 member countries. IOC’s main goal is the promotion of camel heritage worldwide. Sheikh Fahad bin Falah bin Hathleen, Founder & Chairman, IOC, is the man behind all the effort. He is the Chairman of the Saudi Camel Club (SCC).
IOC has made Saudi Arabia the world’s hub for the global camel industry, paving the way for greater role for the Kingdom in developing the sector. The organization goes beyond preserving the camel heritage to embrace the camel sector globally.
Seven months after OIC’s foundation, the global impact has exceeded expectations. On his Twitter account @F_BinHithleen, Sheikh bin Hathleen, announced the first meeting of Europe’s camel owners, followed by the establishment of the European Society of Camel Owners in Switzerland with eight country members. The “Best European Camel Farm” award has been launched.
IOC leads international endeavors to spread knowledge about the camel heritage, conduct field studies to find solutions for camel owners’ problem regarding raising & shepherding, encourage investments in the sector, and build an international camel database.
The international economic & investment in the camel sector came to life after launching the SCC in 2017. The fifth version of King Abdul Aziz Camel festival was launched on the 1st of December 2020. It is being held for 44 days in Al Sayahid Al Janoubia, 120 km from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The festival is hosting foreign tourists & camel lovers from different countries all over the world. The most popular activities include racing, best-looking camel awards & auctions (Mazayeen) and camel training (Tab’a).