While we often talk about the different animals in Qatar, not a lot has been said about camels that make up a large part of Qatar’s heritage and is part of the country’s desert tradition.
Once upon a time, camels were the only mode of transport in the Qatar area, long before cars and other modes of transport came into the limelight and took over. They are sturdy animals that can run hundreds of kilometres in the desert and survive on little water for weeks, and even months, according to some. That’s why they were used by ancient Qataris to travel through the deserts developing and exploring different trade routes along the way. Camels were also used to travel to far off lands to spread the message of Islam.
Today, they are still important creatures in Qatar; they are especially bred and used for camel racing which is a huge sport here in Qatar but are also still an important source of meat and milk and may be used for sacrifice during Eid-al-Adhaa which marks the end of the Pilgrimage (Hajj).
Their main abode is in Shahaniya, which is outside of Doha, and is home to Qatar’s main camel racing track, but you can also find them in farms around the country, in the military and in leisure spots like Souq Waqif where you can ride them at a small cost.
Though camel racing started off as a pastime and a form of entertainment, with the passage of time, it has become a lucrative industry today that can rake in millions of dollars with camel owners coming into Qatar from different countries to participate in races and competitions.
Camels are fascinating creatures of the Qatari desert that deserve to be talked about more. So, here we go!
1. Camels are known as the ‘ships of the desert’ because of the way they walk which is a lot like the way a ship moves through the water. They are able to move the front and back legs of the same side at once and then repeat the same thing on the other side. This is what gives camels their swaying motion, and if you are riding one, it may make you motion sick.
2. A very interesting fact is that the world ‘camel’ is actually derived from the Arabic word ‘jamal’, which is translated as ‘beauty’!
3. Camels can survive in very harsh climates and environments, a feat very few animals can claim and are biologically adapted for desert life.
4. Camels can live to be about 50-years-old.
5. Camels can weigh up to approximately 680 kilograms.
6. The tallest camels may reach to a height of just over 7 feet.
7. Camels can run up to 65 kilometres an hour but not for very long; at 40 kilometres, they can travel for longer periods of time.
8. Camels are omnivores; they eat meat, vegetation and even bones.
10. While Asian camels are known for their two humps, Arabian camels have just one. It is believed that the hump stores water, but that is not true. The hump stores fat and if food is scarce, nourishment is provided by the hump. The hump also blocks the sun’s harsh summer rays from affecting the rest of the camel’s body.
11. Camels can drink about 40 gallons of water at one time and store it. They can survive without water for long periods of time because they lose little water. One reason for this is that camels breathe only through the nose and don’t pant at all, so they are able to conserve more water. The other reason is that they are able to retain water vapour in their noses to use when needed.
12. Camels only sweat when temperatures go up to about 42 degrees Celsius.
13. Camel milk is sweet and digests easily. It is a low-fat milk and contains important nutrients like calcium, minerals, proteins and vitamins. It also contains anti-bacterial and anti-poison elements, is effective in strengthening immunity in humans, and can be used to make illnesses like liver and abdominal ones better.
14. Camel meat is one of the most healthiest of meats available with no cholesterol and very little fat; it is a much loved meat in Qatar.
15. Camel hide is very strong, sturdy and superior in quality so it is used to make a number of different products like shoes, bags and clothes.
16. Camel hair is used in the manufacture of ropes, tents, bedsheets and clothes as well.
17. Camels have soft, fat and padded wide feet so they are able to walk silently and easily stand on the hot sand.
18. Though camels have two eyes like all animals, they have 3 eyelids and 2 rows of very long eyelashes so sand doesn’t get into their eyes.
19. Camels close their lips and nostrils to keep sand out of their mouths and noses.
20. When upset or angry, camels spit out a combination of saliva and stomach juices which can be very smelly, so be careful not to anger or upset them.
To know more about the camel racing at the Al Shahaniya Camel Racing Track in Qatar, click here.
To know more about how to ride a camel in Qatar, click here.
Do you like camels? Have you ever been camel riding? Do tell us what you think in our comments section. Like and share the article – it keeps us going!
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