Camel Races

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What occupation has fun, excitement, pathos, travel, empathy and creativity.?

A traveling Quilt Teacher…… and this one had an adventure today.

6.30, the alarm buzzed….."Oh, not yet", I'd been up till two am trying to solve a travel problem. My head wanted to pull me out of my sleep, but the body said "No"

The dawn was delicious, pink haze, a setting moon and the sound of calling to prayer.

Ron made us coffee, and I added a few dates to the diet and armed with freshly charged cameras we drove off into the sunrise.
just 15 mins through the country we spied the turn off to the camel races.
A bumpy unsealed road in the dry crusted land led us to a huge red fenced enclosure…. 6 kms long in fact.


We pulled up on a hill overlooking the track and a suddenly out of a cloud of red sand appeared dozens of four wheel drive vehicles driving at break neck speed round the outside of the track.
It took a while to register that they were following their camels….Camels with no riders, foaming at the mouth and being whipped by a stock whip with not apparent applicator….

This was what we had come to see.

The dawn was rosy, the light perfect, we parked the car and with military stealth Jan and I approached the scene in front of us… cameras to the ready…. in fact we have identical cameras, neither one of us realizing that we had the same camera until we bought them out to use.!!!!
All I can say is that it felt as though we were taking part in a documentary… we were surrounded by exotic animals, handlers in wrapped attire and an ever moving scene of excitement.


Camels were tethered and settled by their handlers.

The air of anticipation was evident and we watched with interest as each animal was saddled with an electronic device fitted with a rotating whip and encased in their racing colors, just like a jockey.

Men in their Arab dress of starched white garments stood around and gave last minute instructions to the handlers.

The camels were taken to the start line, many of them in ill temper and showing their displeasure.


They were held by handlers in flak jackets and helmets, and after seeing the start we understood why they dressed so.

We were welcomed by everyone, even urged to come closer to the fence…. everyone smiling, pleasant and friendly.

We were the only women until 2 other tourists showed up.

Jan and I with twin cameras, clicked away and not surprisingly we look at things the same angle.

With lightening speed and little delay the start began amid dust, noise horns, speeding cars and handlers dashing for cover…. it was fantastic.

Owners jumped into their cars and drove at breakneck speeds next to their charges…. guiding them with remote controlled whips…. it was the funniest thing I've seen.

After several races we decided on breakfast and found a small shop near the track. A smiling owner, hand us a small paper cup with hot falafel with piquant tahini paste. "For you" he said.

It was delicious so we decided that our breakfast would come from there…. wraps with falafel sauce and cooked potatoes and chai tea cost about $5 for the three of us and we savoured every mouth full….

back to the races and more excitement…. more than we ever anticipated…. and it was still only 10.00 am, the beginning of a fabulous day.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Marel says:

    LOVE the camels….and I am so looking forward to the rest of your tales and photos of Dubai. I was there last year for the First Intl. Dubai Quilt Festival and lived in Saudi Arabia for many years. I’ll be in Saudi in March for two weeks and am camera ready – also food, fabric, embellishments, etc. The desert photo brought back great memories and while I’m happy living in Mexico, part of my heart remains in that part of the world.

  2. Chris John says:

    How on earth do they keep their whites so pristine in a desert environment? This sounds like a very exciting day Pam.

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