Mudhaibi: Oman's racing camels command top prices for Gulf investors, keeping alive the proud local tradition of breeding thoroughbreds reared to win prestigious tournaments.
Ahmed Al Harbi, a breeder in Al Mudhaibi, sold a female camel for RO55,000 last week to a businessman in Qatar. But this is not an isolated case.
In March in Kamil Al Wafi, another Omani breeder, Yusuf Al Hashmi, sold two camels to fellow breeders in the UAE, each for RO35,000.
"We regularly get scouts from all over the Gulf attending camel races here in Oman. They really look for winning animals. Some 20 racing camels have been sold to different Gulf countries this year alone. These camels fetched local owners more than a million rials," Hamed Al Mahrooky, a camel race organizer, told Times of Oman.
Oman is an ideal place to breed top camel pedigrees due to its vast size, experienced breeders and the availability of good quality feed.
Camel owners breed them for the track and rear the animals on highly nutritious diet. A pair of male and female past winners fetches the highest price since they are used to breed future racers.
"Two years ago a pair of winners from Kamil Al Wafi were sold for RO500,000 to a Saudi breeder. It is a good investment because breeders will sell the offspring to other breeders to triple their investments, usually in just four years," Al Mahrooky, said.
Camel racing  is a popular sport in Oman and attracts large crowds in places like Seeb, Samail, Salalah, and the Eastern and Batinah regions. The Oman Equestrian Federation organizes races and offer prizes to winners. These events also attract top people from camel enthusiast Gulf states.
"We have royals, top jockeys and investors visiting private camel stables. They look for young animals of excellent pedigree and who have won more than one race. Many a time, a winning camel is bought just after a race. These investors would come with cash in suitcases to make a quick buy on the spot," Al Harbi explained.
Al Harbi said that Oman's racing camel trainers are in big demand in the Gulf.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said  is a keen equestrian fan and is a patron to the annual race event at the Royal Stables in Seeb every National Day, where top camel owners and breeders meet.