Camel racing is the sport of choice in the UAE. Racing takes place all year round, but the primary racing season is October through April. The most popular racing days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Race goers can usually see two races in a day. The early race generally starts at 7:30 AM.
The afternoon race normally begins at 2:30 PM. Camel racing in the UAE is such a big deal that people come from all over the world to see the events.
The UAE is sprinkled with racetracks. There are fifteen spread across the country. The stadiums are spacious and are kept in excellent condition.
Race distances vary. 4K to 10K is the general range. How many camels can one expect to see in a race? Some may have only 15 horses, others as many as 70 or more.
If you are visiting the country and attending your first camel race, what should you expect as far as the track is concerned? Standard track dress is casual, so there's no need to break out a tux. It's even free to get in and some light refreshments may be served.
Morning races feature camels owned by the sheikhs. The afternoon is open racing. Winning an afternoon race can mean a tremendous amount of prestige.
Sheikhs have been known to buy camels that win the races, so the owners can score a big payoff. As camel racing grows in international acclaim, the sport has continued to grow.
Twelve of the fifteen tracks currently in use were build in the 1990's. The real stars of the show are the camels. There are over 14,000 Arabian camels in the UAE that are currently active racing camels.
The Arabian camels are treated like royalty, if they show talent in winning races. Many are employed in taking care of the camels, so the sport is great for the economy.
Children are important in the UAE so, while young boys used to be allowed to be jockeys, a national law now prohibits boys under the age of 15 and under 45 kilos from being in the races.
Official government issued ID cards must be carried by all jockeys. Examinations are performed to ensure that the jockey is of appropriate age and has not been brought into the country illegally under false pretenses.
Camel racing, unlike horse racing, is not a gambling event.
In fact, it's illegal to bet on the races in the UAE. That doesn't mean that there are no rewards for the victors. Racing trophies can even be something as impressive as an expensive car.
Winning camels are worth millions, especially the winner of the King's Cup – the most coveted prize in camel racing.
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