US have baseball, Europe has footbal, Canada – hockey, Pakistan – cricket and UEA have camel racing. Although they supprt football or basketball like the rest of the world, they also keep alive their local traditions of camel racing or falconry.
This tradition of camel races dates back to the times when Bedouins used those animals mostly as means of transport and from time to time arranged races to amuse themselves. Later on the races were organised only to celebrate some important events. Re-popularisation of the races started in the 60. of 19th century and since then they have grown to the level of national sports in all Arabic peninsula countries.There are many controversies connected with this sport. The first one, obvious, is possible animals abuse. The other one, gaining much more attention, reffers to human abuse. Camel owners were accused of employing little chidren, illigaly brought for example from India. It was important that the jockey was of light weight what let the camel run faster, therefore children of little age were engaged (4, 5 years), often malnourished. There were reported some deaths of little children kicked by camels or even killed by their rivals. Thankfuly in this field human rights organisations have won the battle and human jockeys were replaced by little robots. So now the jockey does not have to be petite any more because he doesn’t mount a camel but a pickup going parallel to the track! They remotedly control their camels from the cars. Along the camel track there goes a street which allows the jockeys drive right next to their animals throughout the whole race.
We visited the largest race track around – Dubai Camel Racing Track. It covers huge area and has several tracks, each with stands for spectators. Schedule of the races is very hard to be found and even if one finds something on the Internet it might not be up to date.
Right next to the tracks area there are many camel stables located and during the day there are processions marching back and forth to the tracks to train the animals. Human trainers take the camels to the tracks and mount them 3-kilo robots or train them without anything.
We also visited those stables to show Ola the camels up close. The animals seemed to be more interested in her than she was in them!
Usually we avoid such attractions as circuses and others using animals for peoples entertainment but this time we made an exception. We just hope the animals there are well taken care of as the best of them are worth thousands or even millions of dollars.