Ten thousand of the world’s finest pedigree camels are competing for $9 million in prize money.
Even though camel breeding is a cultural tradition that goes back centuries, the oil-rich Arab emirate had produced the world’s first test-tube camel and races have recently been conducted using remote-controlled robot riders.
“It’s just like judging a beautiful girl,” said Fowzan al-Madr, a camel breeder from the Kharj region southeast of Riyadh. “You look for big…eyes, long lashes and a long neck — maybe 39 or 40 inches.”As he spoke, Madr was surveying the offerings at Saudi Arabia’s largest camel market, on the outskirts of Riyadh.
The days are long past when camels were crucial to life, a chapter lost in increasing urbanization and technology. But there is still pleasure in raising them, sometimes for milk and meat, for racing and, yes, for their beauty.