10 fun facts about camel races in UAE

If you’ve lived in the UAE for some time, you’ve probably seen trucks loaded with camels drive past you at some point. Although their main function in the past used to be transportation, in the recent years, camels have found themselves a new occupation – racing. Here are some fun facts about the camel races in the UAE.

  • They take place during the cooler months of the year from October to April.
  • Entry to camel races are usually free and they usually take place between 7 am to 2 pm.
  • Camels are trained twice a day, in the morning and evening for about 45 minutes for each session.
  • The baby camels are taken away from their mothers when they are around one and a half years old. They are ready for racing once they are two years old. Racing camels must be able to run a minimum of 40 kmh.
  • The young camels are introduced to the track with the rest of the herd and are expected to pick up the skill by merely running alongside the older and more experienced camels.
  • The age of the camel determines the length of the race. Young camels between the ages of two to four race only for four or five kilometers while five or six-year-old camels race for about seven to eight kilometers and finally, the camels older than six years’ race for ten kilometers.
  • The best way to experience a camel race is to hop on a pickup trucks that drive on a road alongside the racetrack to keep track of the moving camels.
  • Since child jockeys were banned in the UAE in 2005, robot jockeys ride on the backs of camels. Their whips are controlled by a herder who rides in a pickup truck. However, camel herders do ride the camels during training.

  • Most of the racing camels are females because they are gentler and hence easier to handle than their male counterparts. 
  • If a camel wins a race, the Sheikhs buy the winning camels for about a million or two million dirhams. Therefore, camel racing is also done for economical purposes as it is the Sheikh’s way of funding his people.

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