More than two million people are expected to attend the 2017 King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia – touted as the world's biggest camel fair. The 28-day fest got off to a start on Sunday (19 March) in Rumah, 120km northeast of the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The organisers of the fest reportedly announced that they will issue 10,000 visas to people from across the world wishing to attend the fest, according to Al Arabiya.
"The festival has emerged as a grand event with about 1,390 owners of camels participating from different Gulf countries," Dr Talal bin Khalid Al-Torify, spokesman of the festival, reportedly said.
Al-Torify added that the aim for the annual festival is "to connect the new generations to the old heritage, while it also serves as an inspiration and reflection of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030", Arab News reported, noting that the theme of this year's fest is "Camels are Civilization".
Mohammed Al-Shaple, a member of the festival's media panel, said that beautifully decked up camels parading the event venue is the highlight of the fair. He added that camel rides will also be among a series of programmes scheduled over the next three weeks.
A total of 270 prizes worth over £25m will reportedly be awarded as part of various competitions, including the best looking camel award.
The Riyadh-based King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Kafta) organises the event every year and the popularity of the fest in Gulf countries and outside has been increasing in the past few years. The closing ceremony of the fest is on 15 April.