Saudi Arabians, whether in rural areas or the cities, have historically maintained an affinity with sporting activities.
In the old days, this was reflected in the popularity of traditional sports. This region is the homeland of the world famous Arabian horse and local people have for centuries bred the animals for racing as well as a means of transportation. Horse racing was, and remains today, one of the popular sporting events for the people of Saudi Arabia.
Similarly, camel racing has always been a favorite leisure activity of the people of the Kingdom. In centuries past, famous race horses and camels were treasured and widely acclaimed by owners and spectators alike. The annual camel and horse races held at the Jenadriyah National Culture and Heritage Festival are now attended by tens of thousands of spectators.
Other traditional sports activities in the Kingdom include hunting with hounds and with falcons, activities which have largely been abandoned, partly as a result of the strict laws introduced in recent decades for the preservation of wildlife.
Living in a modern society, Saudis no longer benefit from the active lifestyle they once led. Consequently, many Saudis are now involved in regular exercise through athletics and leisure activities as a way to improve their lifestyle and overall health.
The popularity of sports and exercise is partly due to the success of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare (GPYW) in realizing its mandate to make sporting, recreational and cultural facilities accessible to young Saudis throughout the country and to get as many people interested and involved in these activities as possible.
The hundreds of sports facilities that have been established throughout the Kingdom in recent decades meet the needs of every Saudi from the experienced professional athlete down to the child picking up a soccer ball or a tennis racket for the first time.
In addition to participating in sports, Saudis are avid spectators of sporting events, including the Saudi professional soccer league, as well as basketball, volleyball, tennis and other sports in the Kingdom and abroad.