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Camel Racing – Qatar’s Traditional Sport

Camel racing is a sport popular in warmer regions like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Australia, and Mongolia. The climate being native to camels, in many cases offers a terrain less efficient for horse racing or transport.

Just like the horse or dog racing tracks, professional camel racing attracts betting fans and tourists. Camels can reach speeds of up to 65 km/h, an equivalent to 18 m/s in short sprint, and pace at a speed of 50 km/h for up to an hour.

Just like horse racing, the camel rider is called a jockeys, but most countries have banned jockeys since many racers exploited children for their light weight. Children were bought from traffickers or poor families, and raised under harsh conditions for the sole reason of being a jockey. The Emir of Qatar, Hamad Al Thani, banned child jockeys in 2005, and as he directed, all races are today performed with robotic jockeys.

The sport of camel racing has been popular in the Arab region since the earliest civilizations, and have been a professionally practiced sport in Qatar since 1972. Dubbed “the sport of sheikhs”, camel racing enthusiasts flock in from all over the Gulf to participate or witness the annual racing season, at one of the country’s biggest racing tracks at Al Shahaniya.

Camel racing is the traditional sport of Qatar, and a season starts around October, when the weather is cooler, with finals played out in March and April. Over 6,000 camels from Qatar and across the Gulf come to the racetrack at Al Shahaniya to take part in the races, with eyes on prizes like, gold and silver daggers, or the H.H. Emir’s sword.

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