Fabulous four-day third edition of Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo

The latest chapter in AlUla’s sporting history reached a fabulous conclusion yesterday as the 2024 Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo came to a close on its fourth and final day.

After four days of elite competition featuring international patrons, royal dignitaries, and the world’s best players, celebrity audiences and sports fans enjoyed a grandstand finish at AlFursan Equestrian Village.

Team Saudia won the Desert Polo trophy as Sayuu Dantana, Melissa Ganzi, and polo GOAT Adolfo Cambiaso overcame opponents Richard Mille 9-5 in the main final with AlUla and Tamya finishing third and fourth, respectively. 

With this year’s third edition officially over, the tournament has been hailed as ‘magnificent’ and a ‘unique experience’ for all involved. Following a highly anticipated build-up, it lived up to its billing as the ‘biggest and best yet’, laying new foundations for further development, growth, and popularity in the years ahead. 

“We’re incredibly proud to have hosted the third edition of Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo – it was a brilliant occasion for everyone connected,” said Ziad AlSuhaibani, Chief Sports Officer, Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU). “The on-field competition was magnificent and players, visitors, and media alike really enjoyed a unique experience – one exclusive to AlUla that can’t be found elsewhere else on the international polo circuit.”

A testament to the evolution of Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo and its expanding profile and appeal, this year saw the tournament welcome eight teams (AlUla, Richard Mille, Saudia, SAB, Bentley, Dadan, Kaybar and Tayma) – double the number from 2022. 

Additionally, a record 24 players from 12 countries competed against the stunning backdrop of the AlUla Desert. For AlSuhaibani, these statistics highlight that the direction of travel is positive.

“We’re working towards Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo being a world-class competition that people travel to from all over the world,” he continued. “It’s true that we’re in the early stages of this endeavor. However, we’ve reached our development targets to date. 

“Improvements were made to the competition, arena, and entire set-up this time around – 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.”

Besides the likes of Cambiaso, Juan Martin Nero, Pablo Mac Donough, Nina Clarkin, and Lia Salvo presenting elite competition, horsemanship, and sporting moments on the pitch, audiences were treated to a series of offerings inside the venue. 

Luxury hospitality and live entertainment with local musicians honored Arabian culture and heritage throughout to complement the desert polo experience. 

Like always, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo was held in partnership with the Saudi Polo Federation (SPF), the organisation dedicated to promoting, developing, and regulating polo and equestrian sports across the Kingdom.  

Following their victory, Team Saudia celebrated with the prestigious Desert Polo trophy presented to them by Abeer Al Akel, Acting CEO, Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), and Amr Zidan, Chairman, Saudi Polo Federation (SPF). Amr Zidan was present alongsinde Faisal Bin Dowees, CEO of SPF throughts the four days of the event.

Commenting on this year’s event, Bin Dowees touched on its community impact and historical significance. “The tournament has been very well received by a local community whose historic ties with horsemanship and heritage sports date back thousands of years,” he said.  

“Throughout this time, polo and equestrianism have remained immensely popular and looking to the future, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo is sure to be a catalyst for inspiring up-and-coming generations to participate and compete.”

Another catalyst for increased participation and competition moving forward will be the long-term partnership between RCU and La Dolfina, the one of the world’s most successful polo teams. Founded by Cambiaso, La Dolfina is working with RCU to position AlUla as a regional hub for equestrian activities, as well as destination for global horse enthusiasts. 

While audiences have bid Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo a fond farewell, there’s more sport to look forward to in AlUla in the coming weeks, with the revamped AlUla Tour welcomes the biggest names in professional cycling from January 30 – February 3and The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup returns February 10 & 11.