‘AlUla has the potential to become the equestrian endurance capital of the Middle East’ declares Gianluca Laliscia

  • Natural terrain, stunning landscape and a deep history of, and respect for, horses’ are key ingredients for AlUla to become a leading destination for Endurance Riding
  • Equestrian sector has been identified as a key pillar of AlUla Journey Through Time Masterplan

AlUla, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 18 January, 2022: Former Endurance World Champion Gianluca Laliscia said today that AlUla has all the ingredients to become one of the leading destinations for his sport. He expects the 2022 Fursan Cup to be an important step in that journey.

“As soon as I set foot in AlUla I could see the huge potential,” explained Laliscia, who won the FEI Endurance World Championship in 2005. Since retiring from competition, Gianluca Laliscia has gone on to found and successfully run a number of businesses within the Endurance world, including his current position as CEO and Chaiman of sistemaeventi.it and Founder of Italia Endurance Stables & Academy.

As the new general sports director for The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, he is uniquely positioned to give an expert view on AlUla.

“As a place it has all the ingredients that you would want for a world class Endurance ride – natural terrain, stunning landscape, a deep history of, and respect for, horses as well as a collective and heartfelt ambition to grow the sport. Both at an elite level but also as a key driver of equestrian tourism.”

“Endurance is a wonderful sport.  It’s my sport. It is unique amongst equestrian sports in that it involves a strong connection between three key elements: the rider, the horse and nature. For me, Endurance riding is about freedom and emotion.  And AlUla definitely has the potential to become the Endurance capital of the Middle East.”

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 is an international CEI2*120km endurance competition organised in cooperation with the Royal Commission for AlUla and Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation (SAEF), that will see over 200 riders from more than 30 different countries.  It is the third year that the event is being held and offers a prize fund worth 15 million Saudi riyals (USD $4.2 million).

The two stars competition, recognised by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), covers a distance of 120 km, which participants complete by riding four loops that take on average eight hours to finish.

“One of the side benefits of the Equestrian Endurance events is that the same track can be used by amateurs. It is like a gym in an open space.”

Reflecting back on his experience in Italy last May [2021] at the Longines FEI Endurance World Championship 2021 in Pisa, which he organised, Laliscia said:

“In Italy, where the last World Championship took place, the total amount spent by visitors in that destination during one week was about 20 million Euros. People like to come and attend Endurance events and these people are very passionate.”

“So, if we work well with the FEI, the Saudi Equestrian Federation and the Royal Commission for AlUla, then I 100% believe that AlUla will be the capital of Endurance in the Middle East because the people that I’ve met here are all working towards the same goal, which is very important.

The event will be one of the main attractions of the Winter at Tantora Festival 21 December - 12 February. The festival is one of four main festivals being introduced in 2022 under the AlUla Moments banner. The festival includes another flagship equestrian event, AlUla Desert Polo, February 11-12 as well as a series of music events at Maraya.

Speaking on behalf of the Royal Commission for AlUla, Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer, said:

"AIUla's equestrian events are key pillars of what is a longer term strategy to share with the world the monumental beauty of AlUla as a place that is unique in the Arabian Peninsula and perfect for exploring on horseback. The RCU vision includes significant infrastructure and facilities for the elite end of the sport as well as more riding trails and itineraries for visitors to immerse themselves in the majesty of the cultural landscape.”

“The experience of horseback riding amongst the desert splendour and rock formations creates unforgettable memories. Our third staging of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup will be no different for our all riders.”

Bookings for The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 and all other AlUla Moments events go to experiencealula.com

Yassin Omer Yassin - YassinOmer.Yassin@hkstrategies.com
Farah Alzahrani Farah.Alzahrani@hkstrategies.com
For RCU media inquiries, contact media@rcu.gov.sa

About Winter at Tantora
Winter at Tantora festival is considered as the Kingdom's first-ever music and cultural festival. This year, it will run from 21 December 2021 to 12 February 2022. It will offer both international and local visitors an exciting six weeks of music, cultural events and equestrian events. Winter at Tantora is the first part of AlUla Moments festivals which include three other distinguished festivals of AlUla Arts festival, AlUla Skies, and AlUla Wellness festival.

About AlUla
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.

The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of 111 well-preserved tombs, many with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.

Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after the Roman’s conquered the Nabataeans in 106 CE.

In addition to Hegra, AlUla is also home to ancient Dadan, the captial of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms and considered to be one of the most developed 1st millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Penninsula. And Jabal Ikmah, an open air library of hundreds of inscriptions and writings in many different languages. Also AlUla Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century, and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.
For more information, please visit: www.experiencealula.com

About The Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country's most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.
For more information, please visit: www.rcu.gov.sa

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