We attended our first camel race today. The race measures both speed and endurance. The track is 5 km/3 miles long and it takes the group of camels an average of 7 minutes to make it around the track. There were about eight consecutive races. It gave the feel of what I am assuming a horse race must feel like; there was an announcer and camels ran. The differences were that the announcer spoke Arabic, the owners of the camels and maybe race enthusiast rode along side the camels in their cars and trucks, and the jockeys were robots.
The UAE issued a law in 2005 banning the use of young foreign boys (usually from Pakistan and Sudan) from being used as camel jockeys. The boys ranged in ages from 4 -7 years old. They were used because the lighter the weight on the camel, the faster it is able to go. However, some of these boys were kidnapped and most of them were malnourished in oder to keep their weight low. The robots come with a built on whip and the owners of the camels control the robots with a handheld remote the size of car remote.
The camel race wasn’t interesting after the first two races. We did sit there for about six of the races because it was very nice outside today. The track is so long so we couldn’t see the camels while they raced. We saw them start, sat there for 5 minutes, then we saw them coming back around. The track does have TVs in the stands but they are maybe 37 inches so depending on where one sits, they aren’t able to see it. The admittance to the camel race was free because the sponsors are trying to get both locals and residents to help keep the tradition alive. The place wasn’t packed at all. I hope they come up with a way to increase support.
This gentleman was waking around saying “very good” to all of the expatriates that were at the race. He walked in front of us as Terrence was taking a picture and decided to pose.. He is wearing the traditional garb for this country.