Written by 12:12 World

How Swizz Beatz Climbed to the Top of Saudi Arabia’s Camel Racing Scene

As the Arabian Peninsula’s fastest camels galloped around a track in the Saudi desert, Kasseem Dean, a Grammy Award-winning hip-hop producer from the Bronx, watched nervously from an air-conditioned V.I.P. viewing hall.

Waiters in black vests plied the crowd with lemonade and red velvet cupcakes. Women in sundresses milled around off-white sofas, sipping fizzy mocktails.

Though the camels sprinting past were the main event, Mr. Dean, better known as Swizz Beatz, felt as if all eyes in the room were on him — one of the newest competitors in Saudi Arabia’s deep-pocketed camel racing scene. Four years since he entered and won his first race, he has spent millions of dollars to buy 48 racing camels, ascending into the most elite circles of the sport.

“When you discover it, you enter into a whole other world,” said Mr. Dean, 45, whose team of camels, “Saudi Bronx,” has won trophies across the region and deepened his attachment to the kingdom, which he first visited in 2006.

He now travels to Saudi Arabia so often that he considers it a second home. He is a co-founder of a roller-skating rink in the desert retreat of AlUla, where the camel race was held, and keeps an apartment in the capital, Riyadh; a few years ago, he was granted Saudi citizenship.

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Last modified: 11 July 2024
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