Camels and camel races are as much a part of Arabia as the desert and the scimitar. That's why a visit to the camel race track should not be missed on a trip to Ras al Khaimah.
It is well known that horses and camels are a great passion of the Arabs. For this reason alone, no visitor to the UAE should miss a visit to a camel race track, which will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
In Ras al Khaimah, the camel race track is located about 10 kilometres from the capital on the road to the airport. A road branches off to the right from the Airport Road and is signposted "Camel Race Track". The track was built in 1990 and is one of the most visited in the Middle East, along with the track at Al Sheehaniya in Qatar.
Both distances, the four kilometres for the three-year-old camels and the ten kilometres for the older camels can be contested on this racecourse. Proud owners come from near and far with their racing camels, because the prize money ranges from 100 to over 100,000 euros. Often, in addition to considerable sums, there are also material prizes such as precious swords or entire cars to be won.
The camel races not only have a long tradition in Ras al Khaimah, but have also become part of the economy. It is not only about buying and selling the proud racing camels, but also about the crowds of fans who come to Ras al Khaimah from abroad to attend the races. Especially the Camel Race Festival, which usually takes place in February, attracts many visitors.
Visit the Ras al Khaimah Camel Racecourse
From October to April, the camel races are in season and competitions worth seeing are held every Friday and Saturday. The first training sessions start early in the morning, at around 7 am, because the sun is not yet beating down so mercilessly on the animals and the spectators. A ten-kilometre race usually lasts only 20 minutes. By 10 o'clock in the morning, most of the races have already been run and the most exciting part of the day is over.
Tip: If the races take place too early at the weekend, you can also visit the camel racecourse on Thursday afternoon. However, competitions do not always take place then. The hotel or tourist information office can provide information on the exact times of the races.
But even without competitions, a visit to the camel racecourse is worthwhile, because there is always a lot of activity here. Camels trot around the track in training while their owners cheer loudly for the animals, or the animals are just warming up for an upcoming race or training session. Sometimes some of the noble animals are also offered for sale, which often fetch horrendous sums.
Robot riders on camels
Away from the competitions, the bizarre jockeys can also be observed more closely. These small robots, costing about 15,000 euros, are remote-controlled and drive the camel instead of human jockeys.
Thankfully, this helped to curb the "business" with the child jockeys, who were often even kidnapped due to their lighter weight and simply sold to the highest bidder.