When one thinks of Saudi Arabia and what it is known for the usual things that come to mind are probably oil and gold. Saudi also has its exquisite Arabian horses. And among other things, Saudi is known for the Haroof Nejdi. Haroof meaning sheep and Nejdi, indicating the sheep originated from Nej’d. The Haroof Nejdi is unique in its appearance where unlike other sheep from Australia or the United States for example, these sheep are multi-colored with long drooping ears and in some ways remind me more of a friendly dog (think English sheep dog) than a sheep.
The Haroof Nejdi sheep were a predominant part of the Beuodian lifestyle but over the years and in modern times, they are popular throughout the Kingdom and GCC for breeding due to their elegant style and appearance. The Haroof Nejdi continue to also be used for milk and meat but their popularity has skyrocketed with the introduction of “Haroof Nejdi beauty pageants.”
Last October 2008 a Haroof Nejdi beauty pageant was held just outside of Riyadh. More than 4000 men showed up for this event. Yes, it was a men only segregated event. The pageant was organized to encourage Saudis to breed their sheep for quality. And it also offered an opportunity for breeders to do business and a rare outlet for entertainment in a country where the few recreational activities that exist are conducted under the strict glare of the religious police.
According to the event’s organizer, Faisal Al-Saadoun, “Just like humans, sheep shouldn’t have fat in unwanted places,” “They should also be tall.”
The female sheep (ewes) will sell for between 20,000 to 30,000 Saudi riyals (equivalent to US$5,300 – 8,000). A Ram or male sheep is more expensive because it can produce up to 100 sheep per year to ones flock whereas the ewe will usually give birth to two per year. As a result, a male haroof nejdi may be sold for hundreds of thousands of riyals.
One of the best herds of haroof nejdi is located on King Abdullah’s farm just north of Riyadh.
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