Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Day at The Races

Dubai is a land of surprises... we travelled past this race course pretty much everyday and never saw anyone on it then, one day coming home from the beach we saw a bunch of cars, SUV's, people and Camels! We turned around (with some great effort and many cuss words) and raced up the side of the track with the other cars. Luckily we had the video camera with us and got this great experience captured.
We were invited (in Arabic and some sort of charade type gestures) on to the course, on to the camels and then after the race in the "back Stretch" or camel pens to see a young camel being purchased, to feed them and have tea with the owners of a team of racers.
Saeed was very generous and we've been told that we were very lucky to get the chance to do what we did that day. Kenny was a bit worried for his head (and keeping it attached to his shoulders) while we were being whisked away from the safety our car and witnesses to an empty stretch of sand that looked to lead nowhere with a stranger that spoke no english but, was a big Michael Jackson fan but, what we were getting to see was how proud he was of his camels and his family business.
We learned later that each of the camels that he has in the pens are worth at least $30,000 USD. More than that probably. It is an elitist sport here and only those with some big money are able to participate. Some camels are worth over $1 Million USD.
There are laws here that state how much money you would have to pay the family of the deceased if you had a car accident and killed someone based on nationality. Most of the time you would pay between 80,000 - 100, 000 Dirham ($22,000- $27,000 USD) but, if you hit a camel not only will you have to hope that you lived but, your car will be a total write off and you will pay 250,000 Dhr. ($68,000 USD)!
These camels racing along have little robots attached to their backs. These replaced the children that they used to put on them. The Sheikh passed a law about 18 months ago banning the Pakistani children from being the jockeys. I think that he was catching some flack from some childrens rights groups... wonder why?
The cars that you see racing down the track do that because there is no club house to watch the track from. That is how you watch the races... in an SUV cruising at about 35- 40 mph.
Just another part of our Middle Eastern Adventure. Hope you enjoy it!

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