Saudi Arabia’s Haroof Nejdi


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.



31 Responses

  1. The Haroof Nejdi sheep are so cute! Haha! I never seen these before. Reminds me of how they groom dogs here for shows. Do they by any chance broadcast this live on TV or anything? Interesting post and I’m glad to be back and reading your blog, it never fails to keep me reading on and on…

    By the way, I wanted to email you a question about something. How would I go about doing this? I would really appreciate it 🙂

  2. @hiitsjameela – You are correct in that the haroof nejdi pageant is similar to a dog show! And yes, some of these are broadcast on Saudi TV and are fun to watch. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to get “up close and personal” with them and they are so friendly and just want to get petted and play!

  3. We had some Haroof Nejdi in our backyard once, many years ago, while the children were young. My sister-in-law (expat) put her kids on their backs, let them feed them etc. just like they were all at a petting zoo in the states.

    A few days later, while we were having our family Eid lunch at Teta’s house, she mentioned that she hadn’t seen the sheep that day and she was enquiring as to where they had gone. No one spoke. We all froze. She had no clue! Finally, someone motioned to the lambs on the table…or what was left of them, poor things. She went screaming out of the house and into her villa across the way and we did not see her at all for a few days. She was furious!

    Anyway, life goes on, as does tradition. They still get the sheep for both Eids every year. I try not to think about it. Really, it’s terrible to literally face what you have done to an animal to put food on the table.

  4. @Miriam – EXACTLY! When we had a sheep in our yard, when it came time for the sacrifice, I made sure i was far far away….and even if I did not already abstain from lamb, I sure would have then for sure!!

  5. They look like a cross between a large dog and a camel…lol. Very big for goats.

    Such luxerous looking hair…what do they feed them…camel milk… 🙂

    Calling them “beauty” pageants just seems a little odd though…ha ha.

  6. lol- I love it bedu. They are beautiful

  7. Just a note… the word for sheep is kharoof, not haroof.

  8. Love this post, interesting sheep 🙂

  9. I’ve never seen a sheep like this before.It’s very bizzarre and funny :D!

  10. I thought it was part goat at first. Never saw a tall, colorful sheep like that. Neat.

  11. I must say,they look very scary and a bit odd,like a combination of a goat nd a sheep.Super scarry.nothing beautiful about this animal.

  12. @munaqabah – I try to spell the arabic words in the easiest manner for non-arabic speakers to understand.

  13. @susanne – yes, when I first saw them up close, I was saying to my husband “look at those big goats” and he corrected me and introduced me to the legendary Haroof Nejdi!

  14. They are so cute , big eyes and so tame .
    Hmm i don’t recollect F’family eating them when we were there. Even if they did i wouldn’t know. Being a vegetarian F warned me not to veture anywhere near that area.
    @miriam – i had a similar experience as you S_I_L . my inlaws in their enthusiasm to teach me their cooking stuck a lamb part infront of me and handed me a knife. having never seen meat at such close range i was probing it with the knife when F sneaked behind me and whispered ” it ‘s quite dead you know”… eeek i freaked, threw the knife and ran. probably sealed my unsuitablity in the eyes of F’s family 🙂 Still a veggie and stilldon’t cook meat at home.. 🙂

  15. @radha – they really are relatively tame and curious creatures with their big questioning eyes and wagging tails! When I frolicked with them, they followed me around like little puppy dogs!

  16. Hi American Bedu….I was wondering if you ever considered a follower button for your blog? I would surely love to follow you!

    I had no idea that these interesting animals existed! It seems unlikely given their beauty and Arabian pride, but are they killed for their meat?

  17. @Lisa – I’m not exactly sure what a follower button is.

    And yes, these exquisite creatures are also used for meat, particularly during the two yearly Eid holidays.

  18. Cute. Are they pets (for lack of a better word)? I assume they do not slaughter them on Eid. 🙂


  19. Lisa, if you have a WordPress account, you can subscribe to this blog in the top right-hand corner. Hover over “blog info” and you will see your options. Or you can follow it in Google Reader. It will tell you how many new posts are waiting to be read. I follow many blogs there.

  20. Interesting that many don’t want to believe these sheep are eaten, and at Eid.

    As for myself and the Eid sheep–watched the ritual slaughter, helped clean the innards, and ate lamb kakobs from these and neighbouring sheep, also roast lamb, lamb tagine, lamb couscous, lamb kefta…
    All very nicely prepared, though I don’t often eat much meat.

  21. @Anthro — I’ve been sharing many of the comments about the haroof nejdi with my husband and other family with us from Saudi. They are very pleased that most find the haroof nejdi beautiful but sadly, they are also slaughtered at Eid. In fact I’m told by my Saudi family that their meat is among the most tender. ): I would prefer to have one as a pet.

  22. I agree with ququ, Najdi sheeps are ugly and don’t look as cute as any normal sheep or goat, goats are scary anyway and they tend to resemble goats more…

  23. I also thought it was part goat…certainly looks goaty…lol.

    “When I frolicked with them…”…ok now Im trying to picture American Bedu frolicking 😉

  24. @coolred – I was brought up as a country girl…what can I say, you can take the girl out of the country but never take the country out of the girl! (LOL)

  25. You got that right…country all the way….yeehaw!!! 😉

  26. Lisa and Susanne–great question, inspiration and instructions. You can also copy/paste the URL into whatever reader you want; and by adding /comments/feed to the URL get the comments feed into your reader as well. Thanks to both!

    Re: the Haroof Nejdi–I’m not overly fond of the looks either, but I wouldn’t mind knitting with Haroof Nejdi wool. Does it exist? Yet another business opportunity in Saudi for some enterprising Saudi/Expat/Saudi-Expat team? LOL 🙂

  27. @Chiara, et al — I just learned that my own Mother in Law, Mama Moudy knitted using the wool from the Haroof Nejdi. In fact, the bedus would make their traditional tents (sedu) from the Haroof Nejdi wool often referring to these tents as the “hair house.”

    so the answer to your query is yes; the wool is indeed utilized.

  28. American Bedu–thanks for your answer, which inspired me to search whether such knitting yarn could be purchased, and to discover the following fun comparative Saudi sheep facts:

    Short hair– Hejazi (west Saudi Arabia)
    Long hair–Nejdi (central Saudi Arabia)
    Both are used for carpet wool, Nejdi also for milk production (neither used for meat production but obviously for local meat consumption).

    Fat-tailed sheep like these breeds are preferred for consumption of the fat tail; and then of course there are the short-haired, fat-rumped sheep of Bahrain, Somalia, and Sudan.

    All smart sheep in hot climates have hair rather than fleece. LOL 🙂

  29. they are tasty to eat too

  30. @arabiantxn – yes, many have told me that. )-: (even from my own family)

    To me, the haroof nejdi and camels look too much like pets to considering eating.

  31. […] bears a slight resemblance to an old English Sheepdog is the indigenous sheep of Saudi Arabia, the Haroof Nejdi.  Front and center is Aafke’s image of me, sitting and typing out a new post for American […]

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