Saturday, January 4, 2014

A day at the races...camel races

On December 14, I had the opportunity to experience a very Arab event: camel races. A local cultural center hosted a day and bussed a comically large number of expats out to the Kuwaiti Camel Racing Association camel track. I am so glad I got the chance to finally figure out where the track is, and I definitely plan to go back on my own without all the gobsmacked North Americans.

Criticism aside, the day was very entertaining!

You approach the grandstands out in the middle of the desert and enter a very swanky lounge type room with a wall of windows. An announcer calls the race, which has started 6 kilometers away and is in progress as we enter the complex. His feverish cadence, even though you have no idea what he's saying, builds the excitement as the camels make their way to the finish line.

Assumed these were the owners/investors of the racing camels. We called it the Old Boys Club. 

The racing complex from the front.

The TV screens that showed the progress of the race as the camels approached.

Now, when you google "camel races," you get images from Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia where they still have human jockeys. From what I've been told, they used to have small boys as the jockeys at the camel races in Kuwait, but it became a child safety issue so now they use robots here.

One of the last of the pack coming in for his race.  See the little red box looking thing behind his hump? It's a little robot jockey that has a little whip any everything! It's even dressed like a horse jockey!

 They also had camels for the tourists to enjoy for rides and photo opportunities.

I assume they had her hobbled so that she wouldn't freak out and trample any of the tourists surrounding her. Eventually they took off the hobble and led her home.

Over all it was a really cool experience. I'm looking forward to going back for a solo adventure.

Vicariously yours,

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