Camel racing is a popular sport in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Australia, and
Mongolia. Professional camel racing, like horse racing, is an event
for betting and tourist attraction. Camels can run at speeds up to
65 km/h (18 m/s; 40 mph) in short sprints and they can
maintain a speed of 40 km/h (11 m/s; 25 mph) for an
hour. Camels are often controlled by child jockeys, but allegations of
human rights abuses have led to nationwide bans on underage labor in
UAE and Qatar. In modern camel racing, camels are often controlled
by remote controlled robotic whips.
A major camel race is the
Camel Cup held at
Alice Springs which is the
second biggest prize purse camel race in Australia. It is held
annually and includes not only the camel races themselves, but also a
collection of market stalls and other entertainment.
The biggest prize money camel race in Australia is "The Boulia desert
Sands" with a A$25,000 prize purse in Queensland.
1 Child jockeys
2 See also
4 External links
Children are often favored as jockeys because of their light weight.
It has been reported that thousands of children (some reported as
young as 2 years old) are trafficked from countries such as
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan,India and Sudan for use as
jockeys for camel racing industry in Arab States of the Persian
Gulf. Estimates range of 5,000 – 40,000 child camel jockeys in
the Persian Gulf region.
Many child camel jockeys are seriously injured by falling off the
camels. The child jockeys live in camps (called "ousbah") near the
racetracks and many are victims of abuse. Hundreds of children have
been rescued from camel farms in Oman, Qatar, and
UAE and taken back
to their original homes or kept in shelter homes. Many however, are
unable to identify their parents or home communities in South Asia or
Sudan. Some countries have issued penalties for those who trafficked
child camel jockeys and ordered the owners responsibilities for
returning the children back to their home countries. However, they
report that in many instances the children rescued were those who had
been sold away by their own parents in exchange for money or a job
abroad. If they were returned, the children would again be sold for
the same purposes. Other children did not speak their native
languages, or did not know how to live outside the camel farms.
A prominent activist for rehabilitation and recovery of the jockeys is
Pakistani lawyer Ansar Burney. He has focused a portion of his work on
eliminating the use of child jockeys.
The United Arab Emirates was the first to ban the use of children
under 15 as jockeys in camel racing when
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al
Nahyan announced the ban on 29 July 2002. In 2009 the
compensation to 879 former jockeys. The
UAE now issues penalties
such as jail and banning for those found using children as jockeys. In
2010, volunteers from Anti-Slavery International photographed
violations of this ban.
In Qatar, the Emir of Qatar, Hamad Al Thani, banned child jockeys in
2005 and directed that, by 2007, all camel races would be directed
by robotic jockeys.
The Great Australian
Camel Race, an Australian event held in 1988 to
recognize the positive impact that camels had on the development of
^ 2005 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report. State.gov.
^ a b Williamson, Lucy. (2005-02-04) South Asia Child camel jockeys
find hope. BBC News. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
^ The Times UK News, World News and Opinion. Timesonline.co.uk.
^ Middle East
Help for Gulf child camel jockeys. BBC News
(2004-12-02). Retrieved 2011-10-25.
^ Under-age camel jockeys get caring hand. gulfnews. Retrieved
UAE enforces stringent steps to eradicate child jockeys (Wam),
Khaleej Times, 24 May 2005
^ Nelson, Dean. (2009-05-05) Former camel jockeys compensated by UAE.
Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
^ Peachey, Paul. (2010-03-03)
UAE defies ban on child camel jockeys
– Middle East – World. The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
^ Can robots ride camels? by Ian Sample, The Guardian, Thursday,
^ "Robots of Arabia" by Jim Lewis, Wired, Issue 13.11, November 2005.
Information and Resource Guide to
Racing in Oman article
Racing in Rhythm in the UAE
Camel racing in Forbes NSW Australia - Pics & vid.
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