A desert city playground with a unique combination of Arabian culture, mega-malls and audacious architecture in a setting of year-round sun, sand and sea. Great family hotels and a ridiculous number of family attractions too.
Travel bucket list idea:
Camel Racing at Al Marmoom
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)|www.dubaicrc.ae|
Camels have always been an integral and essential part of Emirati life – for milk and meat, for transport, and for entertainment.
Like horse racing in other countries, camel racing is a hugely popular and traditional sport in Dubai – one dating back to the 7th century. Also like their equestrian peers, racing camels are big business. Prices start at $20,000 – the fastest can fetch bids over $2,000,000.
Dubai’s biggest camel racing track, Al Marmoom, located at the Dubai Camel Racing Club, is the best place to experience this lively tradition.
Races, with anything from 15-60 competing camels, last about 15 minutes, and range from 2.5 miles to 6 miles, depending on the weight, age and gender of the camels.
Thankfully, jockeys were banned in 2002 in UAE – the camels now spring in response to prompts from robot jockeys tied to their humps, with trainers following behind in 4x4s.
If you have time, and even if you’re not a typical fan of such sports, a visit to the track is well worth it for a fascinating insight into Emirati culture, tradition and rituals – and the unique and thrilling spectacle.
Getting there & doing it
The Al Marmoom track is a 30-minute drive from Dubai, on the Al Ain Road to Oman.
Races are free to attend. Seating in the grandstands is first-come-first-serve, but most seats offer good views of the action.
Do take binoculars, and if you get there early, there’s often the opportunity for a pet and photo shoot with the camels.
When to do it
The camel racing season runs during the cooler months, from October to April. Typically, there are two racing sessions per day on weekends, between 7am and 9am, and after 2pm.
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