Photo courtesy of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Cultural Authority
Camel Racing at Al-Wathba Racetrack
As the blazing-hot summer cools into a pleasant autumn balminess, Emiratis’ attentions turn to...camel racing! The pastime has been a part of Middle Eastern culture for millennia, but in the 20th century the races evolved from impromptu affairs to professional events at the Al-Wathba Camel Racetrack, about 27 miles east of the city of Abu Dhabi. In recent years, young boys have been replaced by small robots (yes, robots) as jockeys, and the camels’ remote-control-wielding owners pace the camels around the track in SUVs. As the owners remotely swing the mechanical riding crops attached to the robots, crowds cheer from the stands. You must see camel racing to believe it, so arrive early, as races kick off at 6 a.m.