While horse racing may be more popular than camel racing in the United States and the Western world, camel racing is king in the Middle East, especially the United Arab Emirates.
Prize money for camels who win races can be more than $2 million. Bull camels can even sell for more than $5 million.
But recently in the United Arab Emirates, horse racing has been making a slow entrance into a dominated camel-racing scene.
Last month, a number of UAE-bred Arabian horses raced down a recycled camel track at the Al Dhafra Festival, according to The National.
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While there were only 20 horses in the three races for Dh42,000 (just under $12,000) in prize money and a handful of spectators, local government in the Al Dhafra desert towns of Ghayathi and Madinat Zayed are supporting having both horses and camels race.
“It’s happening now because our government are encouraging this,” An Arabian horse owner told The National. “Ten years ago, they didn’t have racing and now they give land for it. When Sheikh Hamdan came seven years ago, the first thing he said was, who has horses?
“They government says if you have five horses, you can go to the government and get land.”
Many horse owners also own and race camels in the United Arab Emirates, which recently opened the world’s first hospital for racing camels.
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