Qatar’s camel racing is a traditional part of the Qatari heritage and lifestyle for centuries. Firstly, it started as a form of entertainment at weddings. Then, in the early 1970s, it became a professional sport in Qatar.
But recently, it’s a multi-million-dollar business. The first camel race in Qatar backs to the Al-Far area in 1973, in which 300 camels participated in it.
People come from all over the world to participate in camel racing or just to enjoy this competitive sport. This sport takes place in Al Shahaniya, an hour away from Doha, it is one of the must-visit places, particularly, if you’re a camel enthusiast.
If you are making a plan for going to the Camel Racing Track, be there before 10 am so you can enjoy watching the camels being trained, their running around the track, or their living environment and the view.
The competitions take place on Fridays, from October to February every year, and the main camel racing competitions are in March and April.
At the end of the festival, the winner of the competition is awarded the prestigious Golden Sword of Father Amir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Entry to these races is free and they usually start from 7 am to 2 pm.
Al Shahaniya Race Track
In Al Shahaniya race track where is the best spot to visit in Qatar, you can find the most expensive and best-groomed camels. It is located one hour’s drive away from Doha.
The experience of camel riding at the Al Shahaniya race track is a once-in-a-lifetime sight, because not only you can enjoy some stunning views of the desert but also the sunset view from there is majestic.
Therefore, if there’s one place you want to visit when you are in Qatar for seeing camel racing at its very best, the Al Shahaniya RaceTrack has to be the perfect location.
How trains camels for competitions
Baby camels start training for races when they are 2 years old. It is expected to become skillful by just running along with the older experienced camels.
Camels are trained twice a day for about 45 minutes. The camels must be able to run at least 40 kilometers an hour to be qualified for the competition. And also, all the trained camels should feed special diets to ensure they are fit and ready to race.
They are usually able to run in races for about 10 years. In Qatar, male camels are well known for their tasty meat, and female camels are trained for racing in competitions.
Child jockeys were used to racing the camels because of their age, size, and weight, but after the Prohibition of the usage of child jockeys in 2004, robot jockeys have been strapped to the camel’s backs.
They are often dressed in colorful clothes to add pleasure to the competitions. The robot jockeys are controlled by remote control. They are almost 25 kilograms in weight and are very effective in racing.
As soon as you get to the Doha desert, be ready for dune bashing adventure. You can also do sandboarding and other popular desert sports. After all the exhilarating experiences, you can relax, ride a camel and enjoy the views of the desert.
Is it worth trying?
Camel riding is an activity that travelers can’t simply miss. Among desert activities in Qatar, camel riding is one thing that has gained considerable fame over time.
Also, you can enjoy the desert area during the evenings and the daytime. It is worth trying this because you can feel your adrenaline pumping with dune bashing, enjoy the view of the desert, and relax when you ride a camel across the desert.
There are many tour companies that offer camel riding at various prices and quality and all of them provide a perfect possible experience of camel riding.
Is it an expensive activity?
Camel riding is highly popular amongst travelers in Qatar. But pricing is concerned, and there are many local tours with different prices which offer camel riding at its very best.
Nevertheless, you can pay significantly less compared to other parts of the world where the price of camel riding can be around $20 for just a 30-minute ride.
What to Consider?
This a list you should consider for going to camel racing:
- Wear comfortable shoes, sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen
- The duration of the tour will be between 4 and 5 hours, prepare yourself for long hours in the desert
- In the summer, casual and loose fitting clothes are recommended, and in the winter a jacket
- To avoid sickness during the dune bashing, do not eat 2-3 hours before the desert tour
- For sandboarding use sports shoes
NOTE: Dune bashing is forbidden for pregnant women, those who have heart, back, or neck problems, and also children under 3.