Jump that hump! Competitive camels and the games they play

Published January 10th, 2015 - 14:50 GMT

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What’s tall, blonde, and athletic? Well, camels might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but this humped animal is pretty much the face of desert life across the Arab world.

Camels have been hard at work sustaining the Bedouin lifestyle for thousands of years. As a mode of transportation, a source of food, and a sign of status and wealth, camels have some serious responsibilities.

But they’re good for more than just the practical stuff. Actually, they've got some wild tricks up their hoofs! Can you knock someone over with your neck, run 40 mph with a robot on your back, or predict World Cup matches with abnormally consistent accuracy? Didn't think so! Take a look at these impressive competitions that camels are putting their humps into like never before!

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Legend has it that camel jumping began as a dare between two Zaraniq tribesmen. It has since become the favorite sport of this Yemeni tribe, which yields the world’s best (and only) camel jumpers. The pros soar over five or six humps!
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Image 1 of 10:  1 / 10Legend has it that camel jumping began as a dare between two Zaraniq tribesmen. It has since become the favorite sport of this Yemeni tribe, which yields the world’s best (and only) camel jumpers. The pros soar over five or six humps!

Enlarge
Saddle-up and away we go! Camel racing is the Gulf’s most popular camel sport, but it’s not for the common folk. Speedy camels can be as expensive as Ferraris, with top breeds selling for over $300,000. Why buy a camel, you ask? Winners earn massive cash prizes and can be sold for a hefty profit.
Reduce

Image 2 of 10:  2 / 10Saddle-up and away we go! Camel racing is the Gulf’s most popular camel sport, but it’s not for the common folk. Speedy camels can be as expensive as Ferraris, with top breeds selling for over $300,000. Why buy a camel, you ask? Winners earn massive cash prizes and can be sold for a hefty profit.

Enlarge
Who needs humans when you can use robots! Jockeys have been replaced by robots in recent years, revolutionizing this age-old sport. Boys as young as four years old were used as child jockeys, leading to international criticism. The UAE banned child jockeys in 2005 and most countries have since followed suit.
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Image 3 of 10:  3 / 10Who needs humans when you can use robots! Jockeys have been replaced by robots in recent years, revolutionizing this age-old sport. Boys as young as four years old were used as child jockeys, leading to international criticism. The UAE banned child jockeys in 2005 and most countries have since followed suit.

Enlarge
Who will be crowned Miss Camel 2015? The beauty with the longest eyelashes, the shiniest hair, and the biggest hump, of course! Camel beauty pageants draw thousands of wealthy Gulf families seeking fame and prestige. Priced at two to three million dollars, the world’s most beautiful camels make the world’s fastest camels look cheap.
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Image 4 of 10:  4 / 10Who will be crowned Miss Camel 2015? The beauty with the longest eyelashes, the shiniest hair, and the biggest hump, of course! Camel beauty pageants draw thousands of wealthy Gulf families seeking fame and prestige. Priced at two to three million dollars, the world’s most beautiful camels make the world’s fastest camels look cheap.

Enlarge
Each year, over 25,000 humped-divas stride across the Gulf to compete for a total of $10 million in prizes in the al-Dhafra festival in Abu Dhabi. The most coveted title is awarded to the owner of the finest 50-camel herd.
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Image 5 of 10:  5 / 10Each year, over 25,000 humped-divas stride across the Gulf to compete for a total of $10 million in prizes in the al-Dhafra festival in Abu Dhabi. The most coveted title is awarded to the owner of the finest 50-camel herd.

Enlarge
Yes, it’s real. In fact camel fighting is one of the highlights of Turkey’s sporting calendar. The event draws in thousands of tourists each year, although has angered animal rights’ groups. They may look docile, but they can be pretty aggressive when they want to be!
Reduce

Image 6 of 10:  6 / 10Yes, it’s real. In fact camel fighting is one of the highlights of Turkey’s sporting calendar. The event draws in thousands of tourists each year, although has angered animal rights’ groups. They may look docile, but they can be pretty aggressive when they want to be!

Enlarge
What gets these boys so mad? A lovely lady camel of course! The organizers hide the temptress from view and just her smell is enough to prompt a brawl. Actually, female-induced fighting can get so hostile that in recent years that organizers have attempted to rile the camels up with other methods, such as starvation.
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Image 7 of 10:  7 / 10What gets these boys so mad? A lovely lady camel of course! The organizers hide the temptress from view and just her smell is enough to prompt a brawl. Actually, female-induced fighting can get so hostile that in recent years that organizers have attempted to rile the camels up with other methods, such as starvation.

Enlarge
Horses move aside, camels have arrived! For centuries, polo has been called ‘the Sport of Kings,’ combining man's athletic skill with the agility and speed of horses. But in recent years camels have made an appearance on the polo scene. Why? Who knows! They’re certainly not as graceful as horses, but they’re much more entertaining to watch!
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Image 8 of 10:  8 / 10Horses move aside, camels have arrived! For centuries, polo has been called ‘the Sport of Kings,’ combining man's athletic skill with the agility and speed of horses. But in recent years camels have made an appearance on the polo scene. Why? Who knows! They’re certainly not as graceful as horses, but they’re much more entertaining to watch!

Enlarge
A high score for the UAE’s deputy prime minister this year after he brought camel racing into the digital era. Saif bin Zaed officially launched a smartphone ‘camel racing game’ as an initiative designed to improve national awareness of the sport. Players discover traditional history of camel racing and are even taught about healthy eating!
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Image 9 of 10:  9 / 10A high score for the UAE’s deputy prime minister this year after he brought camel racing into the digital era. Saif bin Zaed officially launched a smartphone ‘camel racing game’ as an initiative designed to improve national awareness of the sport. Players discover traditional history of camel racing and are even taught about healthy eating!

Enlarge
Meet Shaheen, the football-loving oracle camel. Shaheen shared his talents by predicting the outcome of 2014 World Cup matches. After proving himself in the group stage, Gulf News started posting a video of Shaheen’s “Prediction of the Day.”
Reduce

Image 10 of 10:  10 / 10Meet Shaheen, the football-loving oracle camel. Shaheen shared his talents by predicting the outcome of 2014 World Cup matches. After proving himself in the group stage, Gulf News started posting a video of Shaheen’s “Prediction of the Day.”

Enlarge

1

Legend has it that camel jumping began as a dare between two Zaraniq tribesmen. It has since become the favorite sport of this Yemeni tribe, which yields the world’s best (and only) camel jumpers. The pros soar over five or six humps!

Image 1 of 10Legend has it that camel jumping began as a dare between two Zaraniq tribesmen. It has since become the favorite sport of this Yemeni tribe, which yields the world’s best (and only) camel jumpers. The pros soar over five or six humps!

2

Saddle-up and away we go! Camel racing is the Gulf’s most popular camel sport, but it’s not for the common folk. Speedy camels can be as expensive as Ferraris, with top breeds selling for over $300,000. Why buy a camel, you ask? Winners earn massive cash prizes and can be sold for a hefty profit.

Image 2 of 10Saddle-up and away we go! Camel racing is the Gulf’s most popular camel sport, but it’s not for the common folk. Speedy camels can be as expensive as Ferraris, with top breeds selling for over $300,000. Why buy a camel, you ask? Winners earn massive cash prizes and can be sold for a hefty profit.

3

Who needs humans when you can use robots! Jockeys have been replaced by robots in recent years, revolutionizing this age-old sport. Boys as young as four years old were used as child jockeys, leading to international criticism. The UAE banned child jockeys in 2005 and most countries have since followed suit.

Image 3 of 10Who needs humans when you can use robots! Jockeys have been replaced by robots in recent years, revolutionizing this age-old sport. Boys as young as four years old were used as child jockeys, leading to international criticism. The UAE banned child jockeys in 2005 and most countries have since followed suit.

4

Who will be crowned Miss Camel 2015? The beauty with the longest eyelashes, the shiniest hair, and the biggest hump, of course! Camel beauty pageants draw thousands of wealthy Gulf families seeking fame and prestige. Priced at two to three million dollars, the world’s most beautiful camels make the world’s fastest camels look cheap.

Image 4 of 10Who will be crowned Miss Camel 2015? The beauty with the longest eyelashes, the shiniest hair, and the biggest hump, of course! Camel beauty pageants draw thousands of wealthy Gulf families seeking fame and prestige. Priced at two to three million dollars, the world’s most beautiful camels make the world’s fastest camels look cheap.

5

Each year, over 25,000 humped-divas stride across the Gulf to compete for a total of $10 million in prizes in the al-Dhafra festival in Abu Dhabi. The most coveted title is awarded to the owner of the finest 50-camel herd.

Image 5 of 10Each year, over 25,000 humped-divas stride across the Gulf to compete for a total of $10 million in prizes in the al-Dhafra festival in Abu Dhabi. The most coveted title is awarded to the owner of the finest 50-camel herd.

6

Yes, it’s real. In fact camel fighting is one of the highlights of Turkey’s sporting calendar. The event draws in thousands of tourists each year, although has angered animal rights’ groups. They may look docile, but they can be pretty aggressive when they want to be!

Image 6 of 10Yes, it’s real. In fact camel fighting is one of the highlights of Turkey’s sporting calendar. The event draws in thousands of tourists each year, although has angered animal rights’ groups. They may look docile, but they can be pretty aggressive when they want to be!

7

What gets these boys so mad? A lovely lady camel of course! The organizers hide the temptress from view and just her smell is enough to prompt a brawl. Actually, female-induced fighting can get so hostile that in recent years that organizers have attempted to rile the camels up with other methods, such as starvation.

Image 7 of 10What gets these boys so mad? A lovely lady camel of course! The organizers hide the temptress from view and just her smell is enough to prompt a brawl. Actually, female-induced fighting can get so hostile that in recent years that organizers have attempted to rile the camels up with other methods, such as starvation.

8

Horses move aside, camels have arrived! For centuries, polo has been called ‘the Sport of Kings,’ combining man's athletic skill with the agility and speed of horses. But in recent years camels have made an appearance on the polo scene. Why? Who knows! They’re certainly not as graceful as horses, but they’re much more entertaining to watch!

Image 8 of 10Horses move aside, camels have arrived! For centuries, polo has been called ‘the Sport of Kings,’ combining man's athletic skill with the agility and speed of horses. But in recent years camels have made an appearance on the polo scene. Why? Who knows! They’re certainly not as graceful as horses, but they’re much more entertaining to watch!

9

A high score for the UAE’s deputy prime minister this year after he brought camel racing into the digital era. Saif bin Zaed officially launched a smartphone ‘camel racing game’ as an initiative designed to improve national awareness of the sport. Players discover traditional history of camel racing and are even taught about healthy eating!

Image 9 of 10A high score for the UAE’s deputy prime minister this year after he brought camel racing into the digital era. Saif bin Zaed officially launched a smartphone ‘camel racing game’ as an initiative designed to improve national awareness of the sport. Players discover traditional history of camel racing and are even taught about healthy eating!

10

Meet Shaheen, the football-loving oracle camel. Shaheen shared his talents by predicting the outcome of 2014 World Cup matches. After proving himself in the group stage, Gulf News started posting a video of Shaheen’s “Prediction of the Day.”

Image 10 of 10Meet Shaheen, the football-loving oracle camel. Shaheen shared his talents by predicting the outcome of 2014 World Cup matches. After proving himself in the group stage, Gulf News started posting a video of Shaheen’s “Prediction of the Day.”

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