There is no language barrier in Camel Racing, everyone stands up and
Camel racing is one
of the most intriguing sports in Saudi Arabia. Large numbers of camels racing
across the desert expanse is a spectacular sight indeed.
Such racing is not merely a sporting event but a
question of honor, and competition among camel owners is immense and camels
are brought to the sporting ground from around the country.
In ArRiyadh at King Fahd International Stadium during
winter months, regular camel races are organized. Winners do not walk home
with a trophy but with gifts of camel or are raised to positions of camel
race trainers. The winning camel is therefore worth thousands of riyals and
also brings pride to the trainer and its owner.
Above:It is amazing the young riders do not fall off. Below:Early Morning Training
A Bedouin Tradition
Camel racing has
been a traditional desert sport of Bedouin tribes for many centuries. In the past,
the race would involve thousands of camels speeding across the open desert.
Today the races are held at ArRiyadh Stadium on a large circular track.
Not 1 but 10 Races
Every February more
than 2,000 Arabian Camels and their young riders compete in 10 races during
Al Janadriyah Cultural Festival. One or two races are held each day for about
a week. Saudi Arabia as governed by the Shari’a law does not permit any kind
of gambling, so there are no betting booths in the stadium. Between 20,000
and 30,000 spectators usually attend the races.
Camels are now specially raised for the track, using
carefully controlled methods of breeding, training, and nutrition. Special
artificial insemination and embryo transfer techniques are used for
crossbreeding select lineages.
Camel racing has come to be recognized as a serious international
sport and a great tourist attraction. Events draw participants from
throughout the world. Moreover, such events reflect the cultural background
of the local society. Traditional costumes and rituals are displayed, and the
entire day of racing culminates in celebrations that evoke the customs of
local peoples. These gatherings help keep local customs and folklore alive,
particularly for the younger generation, in a region that is otherwise