Thursday 27 March 2008

Oman: camel racing

The camel racing season drew to a close near Barka today. The programme included five races, a camel beauty pageant, camel dressage and various musical performances by singers, pipers and drummers.

It is rare for people to encourage the taking of photographs, but there was no shortage of owners who would thrust out their chests and strike a pose with their beasts. Several groups of boys were also only too willing to stand with their brothers and friends for a snap.

After each race the first three camels were (reluctantly)
daubed in saffron paint by men wearing a similar amount of the liquid on their dishdashas. The camels were then (even more reluctantly) paraded in front of the stands, closely followed by a couple of workers in blue overalls to sweep up animal deposits. The winners were awarded cars and trucks and other cash prizes. I was told that the Emirates often buy the best camels to take back to Dubai for more lucrative winnings.

A wonderful Omani experience. Let's hope the cruise ship companies never find this place. Sorry, did I forget to say where it was?

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