A few decades ago, Dubai was nothing but a fishing and pearling town along the creek. Life was tough in this harsh desert. They reared sheep and goats for food and wool. Wool was a necessity during winters. They used falcons for hunting and horses for wars. But above all, one animal became an integral part of their daily life. If not for these beasts, it would have been impossible for them to survive the desert. I am talking about the camel — the ship of the desert.
There are two predominant theories as to why they are called the ‘ship of the desert’. One theory suggests that it was because of the way they walked, swaying side to side like a ship on a tumultuous sea. According to the other, it was because of the incredible ability of these animals to traverse the desert with so much weight on their back.
Camels and Arab heritage
Camels were a prized possession of Arabs. They took pride in the number of camels they owned. Camels were expensive and served as a source of wool, food, and transportation. In the past, the Agals (the black ring that Arabs wear on top of their headdresses) were made of camel wool. Look at the volumes of poems they penned about Camels to really understand the love Arabs have for camels. When Arabs liked something a lot, it was in their nature to versify their love. Poetry ran in their blood. They called their camels like they would call one another.
Even today, as modern technology has taken over much of Dubai, they still love their camels. Numerous camel farms across the country are evidence of this. You won’t see camels anymore in metropolitan Dubai except as tourist attractions. They are mostly found on farms on the outskirts of the city. But some Bedouin families have their own camels even to this day.
Dubai Camel Racing
Camel racing is about the beauty in the chaos. In the old days, camel races took place as part of weddings and other ceremonies. But the last century witnessed the technology boom in the Emirates and the neighboring regions. As the camel racing culture made its way to oblivion with the inception of modernity, the rulers of Dubai took note of it. They worked on reviving this part of Arab heritage. Today, the camel race is among the richest races in the world. Hundreds of camels participate in a typical championship. And the owner of the winning camel takes home a nice sum of money.
Dubai camel racing is not only a venue for the Emiratis. Camel owners from neighboring countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia also take part in this sports event. Apart from them, these races are loved by the tourists who flock to Dubai.
Robot Jockeys – Camel Racing
The use of technology has modernized the conventional sport of camel racing. In the year 2001, the UAE banned the use of children in camel racing. But at the same time, the world saw the development of robot jockeys. Before the robots, child jockeys rode the racing camels. Robots are, therefore, a safer alternative to human jockeys. Humans are also heavier and slow down the camel.