Fans and racing enthusiasts were treated to a fine exhibition of riding skills during the 2nd National Day Camel Marathon in the UAE, organised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) in cooperation with the Dubai Camel Racing Club, on Saturday in Dubai International Endurance City, Saih Al Salam.
Organised as part of the Center’s multi-pronged efforts to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the UAE, it was held in conjunction with the 45th UAE National Day celebrations.
Patriotic fervour and determination to excel were seen at its best as nearly 100 participants battled for honours to conquer the gruelling 25-km desert track in brilliant sunshine as the skies cleared after a foggy morning in Dubai.
Salem Obaid Salem Al Hammadi won a thrilling duel to the finish from Shafar Al Balooshi while Ali Musabbah Bin Mufleh came in third.
Souad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of Championships at HHC, said the National Cay Camel Marathon was a success going by the fans who turned up in large numbers and the intense competition.
She said: “The second National Day Camel Marathon produced tough competition with everyone competing for glory to celebrate the occasion. This race achieved HHC’s goals of promoting traditional sports like camel racing and produced three new winners and attracted more Emirati talent.”
Indeed many participants fell by the wayside when they ran up a hill during the course as they turned for the home stretch with two riders being unseated without suffering any injuries.
Salem Al Hammadi led from the start of the race but lost his way momentarily in the middle falling of his charge.
However, 23-year-old Salem Al Hammadi who has been riding camels since he was eight years, clawed his way back to pip his rival at the finish.
“I was always confident of winning somehow but never expected to be in the first place. I did not train much for this event but I believed in my ability to bounce back that is why I got up and raced again,” said Salem Al Hammadi who comes from a family which breeds camels.
Second-placed Shafar Al Balooshi did not expect to get a podium finish being equally surprised at his achievement like third-placed Ali Musabbah Bin Mufleh.
The winners dedicated their achievements to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktourm, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Mohammed Abdullah bin Dalmook of HHC said the National Day Camel Marathon has improved in standard and intensity of competition from the inaugural year.
He said: “During the inaugural camel marathon there were only three competitors at the finish. This time there were 10 contenders who were fighting for glory in the last mile. The thrilling competition at the finish gives us an indication of the determination of the participants who want to celebrate the glory of the 45th UAE National Day. This requires so much of dedication and effort for the rider and also camel. Riders who were leading at the beginning were not there at the finish.”
Mohammed Abdullah bin Dalmook said the safety and security of participants were top priority in this National Day Camel Marathon.
“We are very happy it went off smoothly without any incidents because we attach great importance to this aspect as well as an emphasis on the competitive side,” he said.
Indeed the National Day Camel Marathon was an extension of festivities to mark the 45th UAE National Day with many Emirati youngsters displaying their riding skills in varying degrees to the delight of the public who lapped up the entertainment.