We knew there was supposed to be a Camel Museum somewhere in the Shingdaga Heritage Area when we visited at Christmas but did not find it. This time we found both it and its neighbour the Horse Museum. Both are located immediately behind Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's house. We could not go inside, however, as the museums close at 2PM.
This traditional sport has been renewed with much enthusiasm in recent years. Informal desert tracks and now quite a few official ones have ben assigned for this purpose -the next being Nad al Sheba Racecourse, near Dubai (see below).
Camel-breeding has become a real science;the sheiks of the UAE have invested large sums of money into the development of camel racing throughout the Emirates.Training of the camels commences at an age of about six months, entrance for official races beginning at about three years.
Camel jockeys in the past were young boys between the ages of 6 and 7, weighing approximately 20 kilograms so as not to weigh down the camel. This became an international issue in addition to the trafficking of child jockeys from different countries for the race. To fight the problem, the UAE government issued a ban on child jockeys who are less than 15 years of age and weigh less than 45 kilos. Camel jockeys must carry with them government issued identification cards, which can be acquired after passing examinations by specially appointed doctors to ensure that the child is of racing age and has not been taken from a foreign country by owners claiming to be parents.
Betting on the races is illegal in the UAE, but winners receive many different prizes, many times in the form of luxury cars. Very successful racing camels are worth millions of dollars and the most coveted prize is winning the King's Cup in Dubai.
Camel races, usually held early on Fridays or on national holidays, provide visitors with a unique opportunity to observe traditionally clad local people in harmony with their surroundings, in a modern ambiente , certainly equal if not superior to the most modern horse-race-tracks, like Hongkong or in the US, located in the Arab desert.
Unfortunately cameras are not allowed at the races.
If you haven't tried camel riding...I recommend trying it. Camels are such wonderful and peaceful animals, you just want to cuddle them! The ride is not that bumpy but watch out when you are descending as it can be quite rough...
On the way to Nad Al Sheba club, you can also find camel farm. Be careful on driving in this area, there will be camel sign to warn you that camels crossing the street. So, lower you speed, stop and let them do the “camel cross”, while you can take a picture.
You can get a chance to see camels if you move away from city limits. These groups of camels along with their owners keep moving to different places. Many tourists like to take their photograph.
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