Parks & Gardens
Surfing & Sailing
Bull Fight/Camel Race
THE camel, or the so-called “the Ship of the Desert”, is a vital part of
the fabric of Omani Society, for it represents a deeply appreciated and
highly valued tradition. In his book, The Arabian Sands, the renowned
explorer and travel writer, Wilfred Thesiger stated: Many Englishmen have
written about camels. When I open a book and see the familiar disparagement,
the well-worn humour, I realise that the author’s knowledge of them is
slight, that he has not lived among the Bedu, who know the camel’s worth:
Ata Allah, or God’s gift, they call it, and it is the camel’s patience that
wins the Arab’s heart. I have not seen a Bedu strike or ill-treat a camel.
Always the camels’ needs come first. It is not only that the Bedu’s
existence depends upon the welfare of his animals, but that he has a real
affection for them. Often I have watched my companions fondling and kissing
them whilst they murmured endearments.
From the inception of the Renaissance era under the far-sighted and wise
leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the Sultanate has adhered to the
development process by striking a balance between traditions and
modernisation. His Majesty has paid undivided attention to the deep-rooted
Omani heritage and saw to it that it is preserved for the generations to
come so as to inculcate a sense of pride while enjoying the fruits of
modernisation. To make this a vision a tangible reality His Majesty has set
up many institutions such as the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, the
Public Authority for Craft Industries, and many others. In addition, the
year 1994 has been specified as the Year of Heritage.
In his Royal Speech commemorating that occasion His Majesty reiterated: We
have maintained and preserved our identity and intellectual inheritance, and
we have adopted every means for development and modernisation. It has been
very clear to us that our heritage is not only represented by forts, castles
and ancient buildings, but by spiritual customs and traditions, by science,
art and literature, transmitted from one generation to another.
The real preservation of heritage will not be accomplished unless we
understand this, and cherish it. With God’s help we have succeeded in the
past years in achieving the greater part of this noble national goal. In its
constant efforts to provide the readers with glimpses of Omani culture.
The role assigned to the Royal Camel Corps
The Royal Camel Corps is shouldering the task of rendering the needed care
and supervision for the private camels of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in terms
of preparing suitable food for them and taking care of their health in
general, as well as the training and grooming programmes. This is in
addition to popularising the sport of camel racing and spreading awareness
amongst the camel owners about it. Therefore, we monitor the development
that takes place within the international, regional, as well as local levels
The idea behind the First Annual Camel Racing Festival
This annual festival comes as a royal grant, which is a gesture of
generosity from His Majesty the Sultan. This is an indication of his care
for the camel owners and those who are involved in rearing them. The idea is
to encourage them and give the needed attention to this part of our valuable
heritage and help in preserving the original breeds of Omani camels. This
year’s camel racing festival will include 11 wilayats within the various governorates and regions in the Sultanate. The first stage of this year’s
camel races included the wilayats of Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan, Jaalan Bani Bu
Ali and Al Kamil Wa’al Wafi in the Sharqiyah region. In addition to Wilayat
of Thamrait in the Governorate of Dhofar , as well as the Wilayat of Ibri in
Dhahirah Region. It is also worth mentioning that there will be a final
racing session that will take place during the March 25 and 26, 2004 in Al
Felaij, in the Wilayat of Barka.
The preparations involved in these races and the persons who are the
authorities concerned with the Royal Camels
Corps had to co-ordinate
Types of camels that are participating in the race, and the arrangements
The camel racing is for two days in each selected wilayat. On the
first day there will be twelve rounds of races, according to the age of the
camel participating in the festival. The participating camels are of the
1. Al Hajaiej — aged less than three years, which is scheduled to compete
for four rounds.
2. Lagaia — ages three to four, scheduled to compete for four rounds.
3. Yadaa — camels aged four to five years and scheduled to compete for one
4. Thanaia — six years and scheduled to compete for one round.
5. Hawl — six years and upwards, which is scheduled to compete for one round
6. Gadaan — a young male camels from three years of age and scheduled to
compete for one round .
As for the second day, when the actual competition takes place, the races
are conducted under the auspices of the wali of the hosting wilayat. The
competition consists of five rounds of racing. Let me elaborate that there
are standard requirements for a person to be eligible to participate in this
camel racing. In a nutshell these requirements are as follows:
1. The camel with which he intends to participate ought to be of an Omani
2. The camel should not be a cross-breed.
3. The camel owner should be an Omani.
4. The participant ought to be from the same wilayat in which the camel
racing is taking place.
The venues of the forthcoming races
The forthcoming camel racing sessions are due to resume again after
Ramadhan. The fourth camel racing session will start in the Wilayat of Al
Musanah in Al Batinah Region on December 3. The remaining sessions will
include wilayats such as Haima, Adam, Al Mudhaibi, Mahoot, Saham, Al
Sinainah, Bidaya and eventually end up in Barka.
Naturally, because the importance of camels goes deep into the fabric of our
society. The camels were the means of transport in the past, not
to mention that they provide their owners with a steady diet of fresh milk.
It is also worth mentioning that the camel is one of the few species that
can withstand the rigours of desert travel. Omani camels, in particular are
known to be the best breed of camels in the area.
The awards allotted for such racing
There are valuable prizes that are specified for the various races taking
place in each selected wilayat. The prizes range from cash prizes to cars.
On the first day the top ten winners get certain amount of money. On the
second day the winner who gets the first place in each of the five rounds
gets a car as a prize, whereas those who come in the second place and the
seventh place in each round are given cash prizes.
This festivals are enhance tourism in Oman
There is no doubt that such festivals reflect the peculiarity of the Omani
society, especially that Oman is an oasis of outstanding natural beauty and
culture. Hence such events help in boosting the tourism sector. Seeing the
camel riders atop their magnificent camels is a breathtaking experience,
because before coming to Oman the tourists might have not seen such a sight
except on their screen. I am sure, the tourists will enjoy watching camel
racing and ask about the norms and rituals involved in such unique events.
At the same time their presence to watch the sport is by itself a golden
opportunity to explore the various wilayats in the Sultanate. It is an
opportunity to enjoy the geographical characteristics of Oman which combine
the mountain, the desert, the plain and the sea which in turn are blended to
constitute a versatile culture.
The fort of Barka & its old bull fighting arena where
the bloodless bull fight still takes place is not be missed during a trip
to Oman where Brahmin bulls of a similar size are pitted against each
other in a boisterous battle. The fight is fairly short,
but enthusiastically received by the audience, and the bulls suffer little
or no injury, unlike in Spanish bull fighting.
Bulls were traditionally brought into the Middle East for heavy labour,
such as for pulling ploughs and turning waterwheels. With tractors and machine-driven
water pumps, the traditional role of the bull has diminished, while the popularity of the
bull-fighting sport has increased amongst expatriates and locals alike.
It is difficult to pin point when bullfights will occur as they can be
quite spontaneous affairs. On the whole, they are held on holidays and celebration days,
either early in the morning, or late afternoon, when it is cooler.
A spectator sport for most of us, camel races are held
at tracks in Seeb, Salalah, the Interior and the Batinah regions. The races
are generally held on public holidays and during the annual National Day
Camels are carefully bred for racing and undergo intensive training in
order to compete at national and international levels.
Training Show Camels
Training begins at the age of two years and covers how to be guided,
normal walking, how to be patient, integration with other camels, walking with other
camels, sitting down and standing up, accustomising it to being ridden, training to walk
unaccompanied and responding to spoken directions, strength training from running, and
synchronised show running with another camel.
Training begins at the
age of two years. The camel is shown how to walk and how to be guided
by the rope with the help of an older, calm, she-camel. After this, it
is taught how to sit down and then the riding 'era' begins. The camel
will be guided, taught how to walk and run with a she-camel and then how
to run alone.
Winning camels are highly prized and can be sold for vast amounts of
money - their value is comparable with racehorses in certain instances.
Parks & Gardens
Surfing & Sailing
Bull Fight/Camel Race
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