Swimming with camels in Umm Al Quwain

The Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre offers a unique aquatic experience

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Young camels make their way towards the pale, blue waters of a beach in Umm Al Quwain, as visitors wait on the sandy shores before heading in to join them.

This is one of the unique activities offered by the Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre, which opened its door in January 2021. It is described as the UAE's first licensed centre for camel riding, training and race preparation.

Groups of up to 15 people can swim with the camels with Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre. Chris Whiteoak / The National

"The idea of bringing the camels to the sea is primarily for their race training and recovery. So, aquatic exercise is gentle for the joints of the young camels," says Linda Krockenberger, co-owner of ADCRC.

"At the same time, it helps them to build more stamina and capacity for running as well. So, that was the original idea why the camels were being taken into the sea and then we invited our students at our riding school to join."

The experience usually occurs about twice a month in the mornings with up to 15 guests being allowed in a session. There is also breakfast and tea that is offered along with the experience.

The swims take place on a beach in Umm Al Quwain. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Krockenberger says she enjoys the activity because of how it allows her to better interact with the animals and suggest others try it out, too.

"I love seeing the camels in the water and swimming because they're quite fast actually. And that's always something that still surprises me and where I find a lot of admiration once again for the animals," she says.

The graceful animals are described as 'quite fast' in the water. Chris Whiteoak / The National

"It allows us to be really close and work next to them rather than just riding where we're very far from the head as well. So it's very interactive programme and at the same time, shows their patience, strength, endurance, already at a young age because we take primarily younger camels to swim and train."

ADCRC also offer other activities including camel riding classes, a full day ride, exploring dunes with camels, rise-and-ride breakfast, overnight camping and more. Bookings for the experiences can be made through the centre's website.

Swimming helps build the camels stamina and capacity for running. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Krockenberger adds that many of the camels at the school were retired from racing and have been rehabilitated for a second chance to enjoy life.

"We rehome them and give them a second lease in life," she says. "We've seen lots of great development, from recovery from injuries to just more, better well-being of the animals. That's all possible because of the riding school as well."

Many of the camels at the centre are retired racers. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Updated: December 16, 2022, 6:01 PM