RIYADH: The Royal Commission for AlUla and the famous La Dolfina Polo Team have announced a long-term partnership deal aimed at turning the Saudi heritage site into a regional hub for equestrian activities and a destination for horse enthusiasts from around the world.
As part of the agreement, Adolfo Cambiaso, founder of La Dolfina and widely regarded as the world’s greatest ever polo player, will also become a destination advocate for AlUla.
The team also said it would be returning to AlUla to compete in the 2022 Desert Polo event after a successful debut at the inaugural competition in January last year, the country’s first official polo tournament.
AlUla Desert Polo (slated for Feb. 11 to 12 next year) will take place in the unique, purpose-built desert arena in the shadows of the ancient site of Hegra.
Cambiaso said: “When we travelled to AlUla for the first Desert Polo, we were blown away by the breathtaking landscape of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the stunning desert of AlUla.
“We learnt that the relationship of the Arabian Peninsula and horses extends for thousands of years as found in the archaeological inscriptions on the rocks in and around AlUla.
“Through the stunning intricately carved tombs at Hegra and the open-air library of Jabal Ikmah, we can understand how humans began to tame these magnificent creatures, and the role of the horse in the development of civilized human beings,” he added.
The linkup, supported by the Saudi Polo Federation, plans to bring together expertise from both sides through a new model of sport partnership built around the three main cornerstones of cultural and equestrian synergies, a shared commitment to excellence, and the development of the sport of polo in the Kingdom.
The Argentine-based team, described as “a perfect team” due to its 40-goal handicap, made history by winning three consecutive Triple Crowns (the Tortugas Open, Hurlingham Open, and Argentine Open in 2013, 2014, and 2015). La Dolfina is the only team in polo history to hold the record.
“We were very lucky to be amongst the first to experience these sites before it was an open destination throughout the full year, and now we look forward to returning.
“Desert Polo was an incredible event that not only introduced polo to Saudi Arabia but also helped the polo world discover Saudi with new eyes through AlUla. Seeing the commitment and passion to develop in polo, and sports in general, is a mission we share and want to help with,” Cambiaso said.
Phillip Jones, the RCU’s chief destination management and marketing officer, said: “Our role is to preserve and develop AlUla as a global destination for cultural heritage and eco-tourism with a long-term plan that preserves the area’s natural and historic heritage, while establishing AlUla as an attractive location to live, work, and visit.
“Aligning with the No. 1 polo player in the world allows us to fuse our history of horsemanship and Adolfo’s expertise in polo to preserve our heritage and promote equestrian sports in the nation.
“The horse heritage story is real and rich and deep in AlUla, and we look forward to our role in raising the profile of the sport in the country,” he added.
Amr Zedan, chairman of the Saudi Polo Federation, said it was an “honor” to be partnering with La Dolfina.
“We have had great support from Adolfo and all the La Dolfina players and look forward to continuing our collaboration to build the world’s most successful polo team,” he added.