WATCH: Welcome to Qatar - Camel Racing in Al Shahaniya
If you want to submerge yourself in Qatari culture, one of the richest traditions that you must experience, as a resident or visitor in the country, is camel racing.
Known as the sport of the Sheikhs, the extraordinary racing sees only the finest breeds of camels compete against each other on a professional racetrack set up in Al Shahaniya, north of Doha.
This facility is most lively between November and February when several local and international camel racing championships are underway.
A fascinating feature of these camel races is the use of robot jockeys that the owners of the competing camels use to guide the racers.
Weighing about 25 kilograms, these electronic jockeys can cost about five and a half thousand dollars.
The operator can remotely apply the whip antenna and command the electronic jockey to 'pull' on the reins, or verbally urge the camel through the jockey’s built-in speaker.
The camels can run as fast as 40 miles per hour in short sprints.
The sport has a massive appeal for locals who participate in the events with unmatched zeal. So, if you do happen to be one of the spectators at the race, you’ll see numerous SUVs moving along with the competing camels, cheering them on to put on their best show.
This month, the camel-racing festival for the sword of His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is taking place. The festival has seen hundreds of races with the owners of the winning camels walking away with some highly precious prizes such as a Nissan Patrol XE for the first place and other cash prizes for second and third places.
The Qatar Living team visited Al Shahaniya around 7.30 am this week to catch the action unfold.
This is a must-see sight for those who haven’t visited yet.
For more info, check out the Camel Organizing Committee’s website.
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