Professional camel racing began in Qatar in 1972, and the sport centers around the Al Shahaniya. Here, domestic and international tournaments take place every Friday, from October to February, with major events such as HH the Emir’s Main Race held in March and April.
Remote-controlled, toddler-sized robot jockeys, clothed in colourful racing silks delight locals and tourists, as they ride the lanky mammals across the sandy track. Racing camels can run at speeds of up to 40 mph in short sprints and may continue at 30 mph for as long as an hour. The operator applies the whip antenna, commands the jockey to pull on the reins, and shouts encouragement to the camel via a built-in speaker.
Around the racetrack there is a virtual camel city where guests are welcome to visit the stables. Although shaded seating is available in the grandstand, visitors can do as locals do and follow races by driving their car along the road that runs parallel to the track.
Even when there are no races, guests are welcome to stop by any morning and watch the camels training.
A visit to Al Shahaniya offers a unique opportunity to admire the best groomed and some of the most expensive camels in the world.