Camel racing is steeped in rich tradition in the Middle East. Oman is no different in how important they recognize the sport to be. The camel has long been known as the “ship of the desert” for its remarkable ability to withstand harsh conditions and the excruciating heat and thirst that heat brings. It is also renowned in Arab history for its legacy as a racing animal.
Camel racing competitions have been held across Oman for centuries. They continue to be an integral part of the country’s tradition and social fabric to this day.
Why So Popular
This is a popular sport where camels compete at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour on tracks specially built for this kind of racing. The races take place regularly. Camels have played a vital role in the region over thousands of years impacting all aspects of daily desert life. Not only a means of travel, food, and shelter, but camels are also used for entertaining, celebrating and competing in festivals and special events.
The sport is greatly similar to horse racing. It is an authentic Arab sport, famous especially among the Arabian Peninsula Arabs. Camel racing has evolved into an official and professional race. It includes racetracks, specialized farms for raising camels and running intensive training programs, as well as using new technologies.
In Oman, a National Camel Race Festival is held every year. It is traditionally during the cooler months from September to March. It is organized by the Royal Camel Corps and the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports Affairs and the Oman Camel Racing Federation.
Quite the Spectacle
Camel races are quite a spectacle, and often draw crowds from all over the Sultanate. The sight of the jockey and his mount working as one towards the finish line provides an indescribable thrill. You can even say a mystical sense of magic that is just not possible to replicate in the modern world.
Camel racing is a sport of running camels at speed, with a rider astride, over a predetermined course. The sport is limited to running the dromedary – whose name is derived from the Greek “dromad”, a runner, rather than the Bactrian camel.
Although overshadowed by horse racing in that region, the peninsula is home to the Arabian horse. However, the racing of camels was long a folk sport practiced by the local population at social gatherings and festivals.
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