Welcome to Dubai Camel Hospital. It is the $10 million state-of-the-art facility that has attracted the attention of camel connoisseurs from all around the world.
Director general Ali Redha says that the Dubai Camel Hospital is the only advanced medical facility dedicated to treating camels in the whole world. Qatar too has opened a hospital and breeding center back in 2015.
Since its opening in December 2017, the DCH has proven popular with camels coming from as far afield as the Northern Emirates and even Oman. It is so popular that it is set to expand to cope with the demand.
“We’ve grown considerably thanks to word spreading on the incredible medical advances that take place here and our results speak for themselves,” Redha says.
Camels are Highly Prized
Camels are beloved in the UAE and are an important part of the country’s heritage.
With more than 300,000 camels in the country, anything that showcases the animals have been flourishing in recent years such as government-sponsored beauty competitions and of course camel racing. The racing is among the most popular sports in the region, especially among Emiratis.
“Traditionally bedouins used camels for food, milk, and transport but now the population has increased dramatically because camels are being bred for racing,” says Redha, who has worked to preserve the country’s camel traditions alongside the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who funded the facility.
“We look after everyone’s camels (including the royal family’s) and it’s usually because they are not performing well or they have been injured due to racing. Like any race horse, you want them to be in their best health when they compete,” says Redha.
In the Middle East and specifically UAE, camel racing is a lucrative field. The prestigious Al Marmoom Heritage Festival awarded more than $40 million in prize money to winners this year. The winner at Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Festival will earn more than $800,000.
Camels often attract huge price tags, especially the females that tend to be faster. One of the most expensive female race camels in the world was reportedly bought by the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed for $2.7million at a beauty pageant.
Camels Get VIP Treatment
Because these camels are valued so highly, it should be no surprise that camel owners have welcomed the high-tech hospital which exclusively treats their prized possessions. The hospital is staffed by 65 employees. Staff includes an international team of vets and specialists and has the capacity to treat 22 camels simultaneously with equestrian medical equipment from Europe and the United States modified for the half-ton racers.
The facility has two operating rooms and even a swanky VIP room for anxious sheiks, owners, and trainers to watch surgeries live in high definition.
Similar to human athletes, camels get a lot of injuries through racing such as long bone fractures. But they also can develop injuries through interactions with each other. The hospital performs surgery on wounds, abscesses and even amputations.
The hospital has a five-meter endoscopy device that is only the third of its kind in the world. It is specialized in treating large animals. Two are located in the US. The US has one for whales and one for giraffes and the third one is in the UAE for camels.
Rehabilitation at the facility is as important as surgery with a 24-hour surveillance of the camel patients as they are nursed back to full health with daily physiotherapy. The recouping camels are lifted by a hoist for stretching exercises and regular runs on the clinic’s mini racetrack.
Protecting the future of the camel population is an integral part of DCH’s work so medical research and reproduction programs are key. Redha oversees the veterinary research which includes post mortems to find out causes of death, while Dr. Mansoor Ali Chaudhry is a specialist in the reproduction and breeding programs.
Redha’s five-year plan for the hospital includes further expansion.
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