A man checks a camel's teeth at the Tharb camel hospital in the Qatari desert. Situated almost as far west as it is possible to go in Qatar, the hospital is around an hour's drive and a world away from Doha. Karim Jaafar/AFP
A man checks a camel's teeth at the Tharb camel hospital in the Qatari desert. Situated almost as far west as it is possible to go in Qatar, the hospital is around an hour's drive and a world away froShow more

Qatar's prized racing camels bred for success



DOHA // In the Qatari desert, Musharif spends his afternoons “swimming” in a large pool that doubles as a jacuzzi, just one of the perks of being a racing camel.

“It’s for his muscles, it’s good for the speed,” shouts one of Musharif’s handlers pointing at the water as the calm three-year-old animal is led by a rope along the length of the pool at Tharb camel hospital.

The pool stands next to the hospital, in what looks like a huge agricultural shed with slipways in and out of the water.

The hospital is the only such facility in Qatar.

Situated almost as far west as it is possible to go in Qatar, the hospital is around an hour’s drive and a world away from the capital, Doha.

It is found long after the city’s skyscrapers have vanished from sight and Doha’s sprawling suburbs give way to desert, and only then with some good map-reading skills.

The only clue to its existence are the increasing number of pens filled with resting camels dotted along the dusty highway close to the hospital.

But there is a reason for its remoteness – it is not only a hospital, but also a breeding centre for camels through embryo transfer and artificial insemination and it needs to be isolated to protect its valuable “crops”.

“You want a centre like this to be far enough yet accessible to the potential users,” said Ahmed Tibary, a professor of veterinary medicine and a consultant at Tharb.

“Far enough because [of] the intent of breeding and producing by embryo transfer, you have to have a little bit of isolation.

“Because eventually this is an institution that will house the top-level camels, so if you are developing embryo transfers you want the top racing camels or the top genetics isolated so it’s protected.”

In a region where camel racing is big business, Tharb’s work is increasingly important, and the first camels bred at the centre are already racing in Qatar.

Mr Tibary admitted that research into breeding camels had “lagged behind” similar work with other animals, but no longer.

“I think it’s the future just like we have seen in other species,” he said.

Artificial breeding means owners of camels being sent to stud can command increasingly high prices.

The current big star in the sport is a six-year-old known as Al-Jazeera, who would be “priceless” at stud, say camel owners gathered at the hub for camel racing in Qatar – the Al-Shahaniya track.

“He has more fans than [football’s] Messi,” jokes another.

Professional camel racing started in 1972 in Qatar and the season usually runs from September through to March.

More than 5,000 locals attend and there are some 22,000 camels raced in Qatar and more than 55,000 across the Gulf.

Camels usually start racing around the age of two and generally go into stud at around six years old.

Races are usually held over a distance of four kilometres, though for older animals that can reach a maximum of eight kilometres.

The races themselves are exuberant occasions and not for the faint-hearted.

Qataris, usually in Land Cruisers, thunder alongside the sand track just a few metre or two away from their camels, honking horns and shouting for their animals to run faster.

Mixed in with the owners’ vehicles are fans driving along to get close to the action.

It’s noisy, frenetic and crashes are common.

Sitting on top of the camels are tiny robot jockeys, which can be remotely-controlled to whip the racers.

In Qatar, there are three big races each season, with valuable prizes such as $200,000 Mercedes Maybach cars.

“If you win this competition ... then you will be very famous, your camel will be very famous,” said Qatari camel owner Salem Al Marri.

Eighty per cent of the camels he races are from breeding, Mr Al Marri said: “I’m not lucky in buying, I’m lucky in breeding.”

Like many sports though big rewards have brought problems, in this case doping fears in recent years.

Now, all camels are registered online through an iTunes app, chipped and receive a blood test four days before every race.

Mr Al Marri says it’s not just the big prizes which make the sport popular but also how it connects Qataris with their traditions.

“Camel racing, the camel in general, is very important to the country, especially for the culture,” he said.

* Agence France-Presse

Winners

Best Men's Player of the Year: Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Maradona Award for Best Goal Scorer of the Year: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

TikTok Fans’ Player of the Year: Robert Lewandowski

Top Goal Scorer of All Time: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Best Women's Player of the Year: Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)

Best Men's Club of the Year: Chelsea

Best Women's Club of the Year: Barcelona

Best Defender of the Year: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/Italy)

Best Goalkeeper of the Year: Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG/Italy)

Best Coach of the Year: Roberto Mancini (Italy)

Best National Team of the Year: Italy

Best Agent of the Year: Federico Pastorello

Best Sporting Director of the Year: Txiki Begiristain (Manchester City)

Player Career Award: Ronaldinho

Bharat

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

How to help

Send “thenational” to the following numbers or call the hotline on: 0502955999
2289 – Dh10
2252 – Dh 50
6025 – Dh20
6027 – Dh 100
6026 – Dh 200

Honeymoonish

Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Tips for job-seekers
  • Do not submit your application through the Easy Apply button on LinkedIn. Employers receive between 600 and 800 replies for each job advert on the platform. If you are the right fit for a job, connect to a relevant person in the company on LinkedIn and send them a direct message.
  • Make sure you are an exact fit for the job advertised. If you are an HR manager with five years’ experience in retail and the job requires a similar candidate with five years’ experience in consumer, you should apply. But if you have no experience in HR, do not apply for the job.

David Mackenzie, founder of recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones Middle East

Quick pearls of wisdom

Focus on gratitude: And do so deeply, he says. “Think of one to three things a day that you’re grateful for. It needs to be specific, too, don’t just say ‘air.’ Really think about it. If you’re grateful for, say, what your parents have done for you, that will motivate you to do more for the world.”

Know how to fight: Shetty married his wife, Radhi, three years ago (he met her in a meditation class before he went off and became a monk). He says they’ve had to learn to respect each other’s “fighting styles” – he’s a talk it-out-immediately person, while she needs space to think. “When you’re having an argument, remember, it’s not you against each other. It’s both of you against the problem. When you win, they lose. If you’re on a team you have to win together.” 

While you're here
If you go...

Fly from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Chiang Mai in Thailand, via Bangkok, before taking a five-hour bus ride across the Laos border to Huay Xai. The land border crossing at Huay Xai is a well-trodden route, meaning entry is swift, though travellers should be aware of visa requirements for both countries.

Flights from Dubai start at Dh4,000 return with Emirates, while Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi start at Dh2,000. Local buses can be booked in Chiang Mai from around Dh50

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Bharatanatyam

A ancient classical dance from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Intricate footwork and expressions are used to denote spiritual stories and ideas.

If you go

The flights
There are various ways of getting to the southern Serengeti in Tanzania from the UAE. The exact route and airstrip depends on your overall trip itinerary and which camp you’re staying at. 
Flydubai flies direct from Dubai to Kilimanjaro International Airport from Dh1,350 return, including taxes; this can be followed by a short flight from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti with Coastal Aviation from about US$700 (Dh2,500) return, including taxes. Kenya Airways, Emirates and Etihad offer flights via Nairobi or Dar es Salaam.   

List of alleged parties

May 15 2020: PM and Carrie attend 'work meeting' with at
least 17 staff members

May 20 2020: PM and Carrie attend 'bring your own booze'
party

Nov 27 2020: PM gives speech at leaving do for his staff

Dec 10 2020: Staff party held by then-education secretary
Gavin Williamson

Dec 13 2020: PM and Carrie throw a flat party

Dec 14 2020: London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey holds staff party at Conservative
Party headquarters

Dec 15 2020: PM takes part in a staff quiz

Dec 18 2020: Downing Street Christmas party

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

Top goalscorers in Europe

34 goals - Robert Lewandowski (68 points)

34 - Ciro Immobile (68)

31 - Cristiano Ronaldo (62)

28 - Timo Werner (56)

25 - Lionel Messi (50)

*29 - Erling Haaland (50)

23 - Romelu Lukaku (46)

23 - Jamie Vardy (46)

*NOTE: Haaland's goals for Salzburg count for 1.5 points per goal. Goals for Dortmund count for two points per goal.

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat