The 2024 Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo, a magnificent sporting extravaganza, recently concluded its fourth and final day with Team Saudia emerging as champions. This article delves into the grand finale, the tournament’s growth, and its impact on the AlUla sporting landscape.
The Grand Finale
The pivotal moment built up over four days, and we finally arrived at the AlFursan Equestrian Village. The audience, comprising international patrons, royal dignitaries, and sports enthusiasts, witnessed a thrilling showdown. In the main final, Team Saudia, led by Sayuu Dantana, Melissa Ganzi, and polo legend Adolfo Cambiaso, triumphed over Richard Mille with a resounding 9-5 victory. AlUla and Tamya secured the third and fourth positions, respectively.
Magnificent and Unique Experience
The 2024 Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo has been hailed as a ‘magnificent’ and ‘unique experience’ by everyone involved. The anticipation of the event was immense, and it lived up to its billing as the ‘biggest and best yet.’ It has set new foundations for further future development, growth, and popularity.
Words from the Chief Sports Officer
Ziad AlSuhaibani, Chief Sports Officer of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), expressed his pride in hosting the tournament’s third edition. He stated, “The on-field competition was magnificent, and players, visitors, and media alike enjoyed a unique experience – one exclusive to AlUla that can’t be found elsewhere on the international polo circuit.”
The evolution of Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo is evident in this year’s edition. It witnessed the participation of eight teams, including AlUla, Richard Mille, Saudia, SAB, Bentley, Dadan, Kaybar, and Tayma, doubling from 2022. The tournament also saw a record-breaking 24 players from 12 countries competing against the mesmerizing backdrop of the AlUla Desert.
A Positive Direction
According to AlSuhaibani, these statistics signify a positive direction for the tournament. He stated, “We’re working towards Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo being a world-class competition that people travel to worldwide. We’re indeed in the early stages of this endeavor. However, we’ve reached our development targets to date.”
He continued, “Improvements were made to the competition, arena, and entire set-up this time – and we have big ambitions for the future. We’re committed to bringing more of the best players and teams to compete while increasing interest, attendance, media coverage, and international exposure. We’re growing the sport in AlUla, and this competition is central to our efforts and progress.”
Beyond the Polo Action
While the tournament showcased elite competition on the pitch, it offered much more beyond the polo action. Audiences were treated to a series of offerings inside the venue, including luxury hospitality and live entertainment featuring local musicians. This blend of sporting excellence and Arabian culture enhanced the desert polo experience.
Partnership with Saudi Polo Federation
Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo has been consistently held in partnership with the Saudi Polo Federation (SPF). The SPF is dedicated to promoting, developing, and regulating polo and equestrian sports across the Kingdom. This partnership ensures the continued growth and success of the event.
Following their triumph, Team Saudia celebrated their victory with the prestigious Desert Polo trophy, which was presented to them by Abeer Al Akel, Acting CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), and Amr Zidan, Chairman of the Saudi Polo Federation (SPF). Amr Zidan, alongside Faisal Bin Dowees, CEO of SPF, was present throughout the event’s four days.
Community Impact and Heritage
Faisal Bin Dowees highlighted the tournament’s significance in its impact on the local community. He mentioned, “The tournament has been very well received by a local community whose historic ties with horsemanship and heritage sports date back thousands of years. During this time, polo and equestrianism have remained immensely popular, and looking to the future, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo will surely be a catalyst for inspiring up-and-coming generations to participate and compete.”
A Long-Term Partnership
Another catalyst for increased participation and competition in the future will be the long-term partnership between RCU and La Dolfina, one of the world’s most successful polo teams. Founded by Adolfo Cambiaso, La Dolfina is collaborating with RCU to position AlUla as a regional hub for equestrian activities and a destination for global horse enthusiasts.
As the audience bid farewell to the Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo, there’s still more sports excitement to look forward to in AlUla in the coming weeks. The revamped AlUla Tour, scheduled from January 30 to February 3, will welcome the biggest names in professional cycling. Following that, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup returns on February 10 & 11, promising more thrilling action.
The 2024 Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo has left an indelible mark on the sporting landscape of AlUla. With its grandeur, growth, and impact, it has set the stage for a promising future, where AlUla becomes a global destination for sports enthusiasts. As the tournament bids adieu, AlUla eagerly awaits the next chapter in its sporting history.