If you love animals and have a need for speed then you might want to give horse racing a go. Throw a sense of adventure into the mix and the sport of kings might not quite cut it.
If that sounds familiar then don’t worry, we’ve got the answer for true glory head to the UAE in the Middle East and dive into the world of camel racing. These ships of the desert are more like turbo-charged speed boats than ocean liners so you’re guaranteed a great adventure.
If you fancy making a bid for camel racing glory, we’ve put together a short guide containing all you’ll need to know about the sport. When you’ve finished it you’ll have the roadmap to success and it’ll be up to you so don’t get the hump if you don’t become king of the camels!
Where to start?
Where indeed. The first thing you should probably do is get to grips with the basics of camel riding. This, you may be surprised to read, is not that easy in Blighty so book your flights to the Middle East for your first experience of the pastime.
Abu Dhabi is a hotbed of the camel racing scene and is well used to catering for tourists. So you’ll find a great range of accommodation throughout the collection of emirate states. You’ll want somewhere central, comfortable and affordable so try the Park Inn by Radisson, Abu Dhabi Yas Island and get ready to take your first steps towards racing glory.
Walk before you run
There are a couple of things you should do before you sign up to your first camel race, the most important of which is learning how to ride a camel. While you’re at it you may as well get your first taste of watching camel racing they can both be done at the Al Wathaba Race Course just 30 mins from Abu Dhabi. Races happen at the track regularly check with the local tourist information to get further information.
When you get to the track expect to see a race unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The long loping stride of the camels might not be as graceful as that of horses but this sport certainly doesn’t want for action. The desert-dwelling steeds put on a frenetic show and the action isn’t just restricted to the track. At many races the spectators race alongside the course, tearing across the red sand in flocks of 4x4s as they all try to keep up with the charging herd.
Speak to some of the trainers and racers you’ll find that they are happy to see a foreign fan of camel racing and may well allow you to have a shot on one of their thoroughbreds. You don’t want to look like a rank amateur when you get up on the camel so remember the following tips:
- Approach with confidence and caution from the side: Camels have their own personalities and sometimes they can be on the bad tempered and vindictive side. Show no fear!
- Hold on: The motion of camels takes a bit of getting used to so keep your balance and keep control (although it might not be a bad idea to scan the ground for a comfortable looking bit of sand, just in case you can’t stay on).
- Relax: If you act like you’re confident and relaxed then that’s how you’ll begin to feel. Just go with it people have been embarking on these beasts for thousands of years. It can be done and you can do it.
Now you’ve had your taste of both camel riding and racing you may feel that it’s time to up the pace but here’s where you’ll run into problems!
The stumbling block
Unfortunately for all budding camel racers, unless you are small and radio controlled you are not likely to get a look in. A few years ago, human camel racing pretty much came to an end in Abu Dhabi and now the racing animals are all controlled by dinky little radio-controlled robots.
I know it’s a crushing blow but if you’re really desperate to race something out of the ordinary, there’s always elephant racing).