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The Naadam Festival Brings Mongolia’s Gobi Desert Alive

by Robert Michael Poole

In few countries is the national festival so deeply associated with its past, and so relevant to its present, as in Mongolia. The Naadam Festival celebrated in the capital Ulaanbaatar each July, is a UNESCO-inscribed Intangible Cultural Heritage. Some suggest its origins date back to sports played by the army of Genghis Khan, as a way of testing strength and skill and the oldest surviving Mongolian language book, The Secret History of the Mongols mentions all three main sports of the festival – horse racing, archery and wrestling.