Dubai camels compete for Dh100 million in cash at February festival

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Festival is a prelude to the season's grand finale in April

Dubai, April, 06, 2019: Camels participate on the first day of the Marmoom season finals for the camel racing season at Al Marmoom Heritage Village in Dubai. Satish Kumar/ For the National / Story by Anna  Zacharias
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Thousands of camels will go head-to-head for more than Dh100 million in prizes at Dubai’s Al Marmoon racetrack.

Running from February 2 to 13, the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Festival is one of the largest camel racing events of the year and will have more than 300 heats. It is second in Dubai only to Al Marmoon Heritage Festival in April, the race season’s grand finale.

The festival is free of charge and open to the public. A heritage village with Emirati handicrafts will be held on the sidelines.

“It is exciting,” said Abdulla Al Falasi, the media director of Dubai Camel Racing Club.

“All races are for families, they can come, enjoy and watch the races and know what the races mean.”

The final day will have four eight-kilometre races with Dh10 million in prize money for the fastest camels. Prize money will go to the swiftest five camels.

Camels from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman will compete alongside Emirati racers. It will be a time for owners to socialise at desert farms by night and a chance to buy, sell and build stronger herds before the season winds up with high-stakes races at Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi and Al Marmoom.

In most races, the top 10 camels receive cash prizes of Dh1,500 and up, with luxury vehicles awarded to the best camel in each heat.

The coveted Crown Prince of Dubai Sword and Dh3 million cash will be the grand prize for the top two female camels ages six and up.

Heats run from 7am to 10pm and 2pm to 5pm during the 11 day festival, which begins February 2.

A 25 kilometre camel marathon with human jockeys will take place at the Marmoom racetrack on February 7 at 3.30pm.

Modest dress is recommended for women and men.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - April 10, 2019: Camel traders/trainers competing at the Marmoom season finals. Wednesday the 10th of April 2019. Near Al Marmoom Camel race track, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Camel owners unwind after competition at the Marmoom season finals in April last year. Chris Whiteoak / The National