Once in a while something truly fascinating comes along. Attending a camel race was something so out of my world. The festival in Dubai, UAE runs from the 17th – 28th Feb and has races in both the mornings and evenings. The festival aims to urge the citizens of the state and the Gulf to stick to traditions and culture of which camels are deeply embedded.
For the completely uneducated the camels have little mechanical jockeys which look a little like monkeys. Theses ‘jockeys’ are controlled by remote control and as the camels race a car speeds along the outside or inside of the track whipping the camel along. Each race takes approximately 10 mins.
We were blessed to be taken briefly under the wing of a police officer who allowed us into what I have dubbed the camel pit to watch the camels being brought in and registered for each race. The importance of the races profoundly hit me when we were informed the camels had just come from drug testing and then they have the ‘jockey’s’ strapped on, register and then line up. He even got us a cup of tea which I am really unsure of what it was but get the feeling I have had my first camel milk gravy/tea!
It is almost impossible to explain what happens when a race commences. The gate lifts and the handlers all scream to help start the camels off. It is then that that biggest shock to this camel racing novice hit, nearly a hundred cars raced down either side of the track with the camels. There was even a class structure of the support vehicles. A number of very lower number plated Mercedes Benz SUV’s were on the inside track closest to the camels, then just beside them clearly those with a little wealth and the outer track outside the remaining people whom had to race right around the track to the start again which kicks off within minutes of the last race finishing.
Initially not knowing the significance of the vehicles, it was just mad. My pictures however show how magical the day was.
Hope you get to experience this fun event!