A host of international VIP guests jetted into a unique polo arena in the heart of ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site, AlUla last weekend to witness Saudi Arabian history in the making.
Not only was it the first time polo had been officially staged in the Kingdom under the newly-formed Saudi Polo Federation, but it was also breaking new ground for the sport, with the first staging of Desert Polo.
Visitors were treated to a sneak peak of one of the most untouched and breathtaking areas in the world infused with ancient horsemanship traditions and rare landscapes, AlUla is rich with 200,000 year-old archeology and rock etchings documenting the regions close links to horse. Not yet open to the public, a lucky few are able to experience AlUla through the Winter at Tantora festival, a series of 12 weekends of culture and sport running from December until March.
With a high profile player roster including Argentina’s La Dolfina team players, Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Richard Mille ambassador Pablo Mac Donough as well as chat show regular model and newly announced Amaala ambassador, Nacho Figueras, AlUla Desert Polo was Saudi Arabia’s first official polo tournament.
Players for the Grand Final on Saturday were led out by a new Bentley Bentayga before the on-pitch action began which saw Figueras captain Team Amaala to a 7-2 victory over Team AlUla led by Cambiaso. Most valuable player went to Sheikha Alia Al Maktoum.
Team Al Nahla and Team Richard Mille had clashed earlier in the day for the third place playoff with Team Al Nahla coming out on top, 4-2.
Amr F Zedan, Chairman of the Saudi Polo Federation: “AlUla Desert Polo represents the start of a new era for the sport of Polo in Saudi Arabia. This event, thanks to the spectacular location and the involvement of our high profile sponsors and players, has put polo on the map in the Kingdom and on an international scale.
“We could not have got to this point without the assistance of our supporters at Royal Commission for AlUla. Special thanks also goes out to our official timekeeper Richard Mille, official car Bentley and a finally a big congrats to Amaala who won the first Desert Polo trophy.”
Guests of honour during the prize giving included HH Prince Abdulaziz bin Faisal Al Turki, Chairman of the General Sport Authority, Richard Mille CEO, Peter Harrison, Nicholas Naples CEO Amaala and Bandar Al Turki, Board member Al Nahla Group.
The trophy was presented the to winners, Nacho Figueras, George Spencer Churchill and HSH Prince Carl von Oettingen-Wallerstein.
Afterwards Figueras said he was delighted to have won the first AlUla Desert Polo title.
“It is an amazing place with amazing scenery,” he said. “I am very proud to have won the first AlUla Desert Polo trophy. Looking at the success of this tournament I think it’s clear that Saudi Arabia will go on to do big things in the world of polo and I look forward to coming back next year with Team Amaala to defend our title.”
AlUla Desert Polo teams and players
AlUla Polo team
1 HRH Prince Abbas bin Ali bin Nayef
2 Mohammad Al Habtoor
3 Adolfo Cambiaso
Richard Mille Polo team
1 HRH Prince Sultan Alfaisal
2 Amr F Zedan (SPF Chairman)
3 Pablo MacDonough
Al Nahla Polo Team
1 HRH Sheikha Alia Al Maktoum
2 Saad Audeh
3 Pelon Stirling
Amaala Polo team
1 HSH Prince Carl of Oettingen-Wallerstein
2 George Spencer Churchill, Marquess of Blandford
3 Nacho Figueras