The final story of Shaheen Al Awani reveals just how well he knew his camels.

Camel farmers were easily able to distinguish between their animals by learning their physical characteristics.

Lee Hoagland/The National
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This is the third and final story of Shaheen Al Awani, as told to me some years ago by his son Mohammed.

Shaheen Al Awani’s camel was lost.

The bedu asked friends, relatives and strangers if they had seen his camel.

For you and I this might be difficult because, to most people, all camels look the same. But for Shaheen it was easy because men at that time raised their herds themselves and had a rich language that described every hue of camel fur, a camel’s age in months, how many times a cow has given birth and many other characteristics.

And so in just a few words, Shaheen Al Awani related the most minute details of his camel’s personality and appearance and men recognised this camel and knew where she had been.

Shaheen’s search led him from Ras Al Khaimah to a water tanker in Umm Al Quwain. It was the hot season, and a popular place for camels to quench their thirst.

Hundreds of tracks were printed on the fine sand that surrounded the tanker. Shaheen Al Awani examined each hoof print, turned to the men around him and announced that his camel would return the next afternoon. Men knew that Shaheen knew his camels well but few shared his certainty.

The next afternoon the camel was there, at the exact hour Shaheen had predicted.

“How did you know?” they asked.

“I saw the tracks,” he said.

The story is taken as proof that Shaheen knew the tracks of his 40 female camels.