Camels are known for their resilience, but some have a hidden talent – speed. Y looks into the exciting world of camel racing
Capable of enduring the most extreme conditions, camels have been integral to residents of the Gulf for centuries. Believed to have been domesticated around 3,000 BC, camels have been used for everything from milk and meat to working animals and a means of transportation over the years.
Many may think them of as lumbering creatures or “Ships of the Desert”, but camels have more than a few tricks up their sleeve. Given the right conditions, the one-humped dromedary camel that you find in Oman can actually reach speeds of up to 64kph in short bursts on specialised tracks.
And camel racing is big business in Oman, as you can see from some of these impressive pictures.
Overseen by the Oman Camel Racing Federation, the famous Arab sport has a solid fan base, with races providing an opportunity for a fantastic spectacle for tourists and locals alike.
Racing camels are often spurred on by robotic jockeys – child jockeys were banned in the UAE in 2002, while Oman announced a phased implementation of a minimum age of 18 for jockeys in 2005 – but races also offer an opportunity for Bedouin riders to demonstrate amazing feats of athleticism as they maintain balance perched atop their bumpy steed.
The camels themselves have become prized possessions and can often fetch prices in excess of the top sports cars. The cream of the crop are bred and trained at special farms where they undergo a rigorous training programme to ensure they perform at the peak of their ability.
Races don’t receive much mainstream publicity, so if you’re keen to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures at full tilt, be sure to visit rca.gov.om and the Oman Camel Racing Federation on Facebook for schedules.