Dubai is set to hold its ‘first camel marathon’ next month. It is a 50-km (31-mile) race on 3 December to mark the United Arab Emirates’ 44th National Day.
While camel racing is a longstanding part of UAE’s sporting calendar, this competition will be much more difficult for both camel and rider, due to the long journey.
“Training and conditioning will play a big role in this marathon, along with the rider’s tactics in pacing the camel over the long distance,” says Saeed Bin Sarud, the director-general of the Dubai Camel Racing Club.
As per The National, The event is open to “Emiratis who are 18 and older and who are proficient in camel riding. More than 1,000 camels and their riders are expected to compete…”
Camel owners from all over the region are sure to prep them and find eligible riders who can demonstrate their animal can beat any others in the competition. “Winning a camel race may fetch you huge prize money and luxury cars.” (Source: gulfnews.com)
In fact, according to a BBC report, “The first 50 riders to finish will win prizes from a 2m-dirham (£350,000, $540,000) pot, and the top three will get luxury cars.” As a result, this should attract many camel riders.
The camel marathon race is being organized by Dubai Camel Racing Club in partnership with the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre (HHC). The event is sure to make people fully aware of the importance of these animals, while promoting the conservation of rare breeds.
In the marathon, there will be both purebred and thoroughbred camels taking part. Camels will go at high speed across the open sands and over dunes towards the finish, but one cannot forget that camels are actually very important for other reasons: sometimes, they are the only source of transportation, food, clothing, and shelter.
Indeed, the camel is integral to UAE life. It is seen as a noble animal for production of milk by-products on to camel meat for food, or hides and skins for merchants to make shoes, bags and other items. In essence, UAE’s camel market is on the rise with lots of products made widely available and great potential for grow.
Camels have other tasks that range from human transport to bearing loads of items on their backs supported by their humps (Arabian camels only have one).
Many tourists also cherish the chance to ride camels and be acquainted with them. As great transportation, camel riding has helped people move across hot sand and experience the open desert landscapes for a bit of adventure in the dunes and/or along the sandy beaches. Many tourist companies offer exciting packages to experience the thrill of a desert safari tour for day-trippers to sightsee parts of the region.
For ages, camels have played a vital role in the region and have influenced every aspect of daily life, from transportation of goods and people to entertainment and celebration during special occasions. From the local and traditional sport of camel racing to entering them in the annual Camel Beauty Contest, part of the Al Dhafra Festival, it is easy to see how camels have played such an important role in Arabian culture over the years.
Undeniably, the UAE camels are beloved animals. It is clear the mammal retains an important place in the nation’s heart, as an important part of UAE’s rich heritage and has protected the purebred camel lines of the region.