The Richard Mille Desert Polo Weekend Experience

Over the weekend, we took a take a trip to the past and visited the city of AlUla, which is located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia and is known for its historical wonders. With the Royal Commission of AlUla aiming to make the city the “World’s Largest Living Museum.” The city contains historical gems such as the Elephant Rock, Mada’in Saleh, and many more. The weekend was fully-stacked with exciting events and activities, starting off with the Richard Mille Desert Polo Match, the memorable Alicia Keys concert in Maraya, and last but certainly not least, the ‘Women To Women’ talk with her Royal Highness, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Alsaud as well as Alicia Keys.

Courtesy of the Royal Commission of AlUla

The experience started off with a trip to Desert X AlUla, the open-air art museum, with artists such as Claudia Comte from Switzerland, Shadia Alem from Saudi Arabia, and Khalil Rabah from Palestine. This year’s theme “Sarab” captures the true essence of the desert, combining modernity and culture into one.

Art pieces such as the Desert Kite, created by artist Sultan bin Fahad, that was inspired by the desert itself, with mirrors around.

Courtesy of AlUla Moments

The main event for weekend was the Richard Mille Desert Polo match in the glorious AlUla setting, that showcased the beauty of the city. Upon attending, the event was full of activities and exciting shows, whether it was the polo match itself, or the shows in between. The shows included a combination of male and female riders that wore traditional Saudi clothing, giving us an equestrian experience like no other.

Courtesy of the Royal Commission of AlUla

The teams competing for the cup were: Bentley, AlUla, Saudia and Richard Mille. Each of the teams had a number of talented polo players that went above and beyond to win, but alas, the winning title was given to the AlUla team.

The lavish polo match was filled with members of the Royal family, celebrities, influencers and many more. It was most certainly the event of the season, with it finally opening the door for polo, as a sport, in the Kingdom.

The only female polo player playing in the tournament, Melissa Ganzi, spoke to Grazia, and when asked about her thoughts on the Kingdom and the direction it’s taking within the field of sports, she responded: “I’m very impressed with the organization of the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Saudi Polo Federation and how much they have invested in the sport and in sports in general, and I see polo as a wonderful vehicle for tourism and global connections in general. ”

Melissa believes it’s vital to have women players anywhere “to set an example for women and for young women” and she also mentioned, “if you want to do something, you have the ability to do it.”

Richard Mille Desert Polo
Courtesy of the Royal Commission of AlUla

The weekend ended with an Alicia Keys concert at the beautiful Maraya. The American singer stunned the attendees with two outfits, designed by Saudi designer, Shahad Alshehail, the CEO and creative director of Abadia.

Alicia Keys AlUla
Courtesy of AlUla Moments

For the final day in AlUla, from attending the polo match finale, to being given the opportunity to attend the ‘Women to Women’ talk which was undeniably one for the history books, hosted by Her Royal Highness, Princess Reema bint Bandar AlSaud along with Alicia Keys. The panel also contained other inspiring women such as: Shahad Alshehail, Fatima Albanawi, Manal Dowayan, Hala Aldakhil and Deem Albassam. The talk touched many important topics, such as inspiration, ambition, and the role AlUla has within the vision. The event took place in Madrasat Addeera, a building that helps run artisan development programmes in partnership with Princes School of Traditional Arts and Turquoise Mountain. It is a place of imagination and sustainability, making it the perfect spot to host this talk.

Women to Women
Courtesy of the Royal Commission of AlUla

The ‘Women to Women’ talk ended with Princess Reema’s final note: “As I was thinking, to what I could possibly say to you, looking at the women here, whether they are on the stage or to your right, or left.  The women of a generation, that were born of women of a generation that were told no. So, those of us, that insisted on no being a yes,” she eloquently said. “We stuffed ourselves anywhere we couldn’t find anyone else to stuff themselves into. So, we look like we have crazy CVs. We look like we’ve had erratic careers paths, but it’s not erratic. The singular unifier of all of us and the humility that many of us in this room have to have, to step back, because the other women are here. Whether they’re in the room with us, or their women, we know that didn’t get to make it here. Or they’re the women that we haven’t met yet. How do we create space for them while still celebrate our own personal successes is going to be the struggle of this next generation of women, because the opportunity exists.  The thrill exists. The passion exists. If we don’t take those steps back and pull ourselves out of the places we’ve put ourselves in, the community won’t. So, part of the challenge and inspiration for me today is to meet you all and see your journeys. Understand you. So, when I go back to the States, I can represent you. I don’t represent myself. I represent a nation and the women of the nation.”

Women to Women
Courtesy of the Royal Commission of AlUla

 “Women supporting women isn’t a choice, it’s an imperative. We are going to be the change makers of the world, not because we are better than men, but because we are equal and a world of equality is a world we all aspire to. Where men and women have equal voices, where they’re celebrated and where they’re honored, and where they succeed together.”

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