Sign in Register
Posted On: 16 December 2008 09:36 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Camel dressage contest off to a colourful start in Rayyan

Paper Boy
Paper Boy
Discuss here!
Start a discussion
NEARLY 400 camels and their riders came under scrutiny as the world’s first camel training and dressage competition got under way in Rayyan yesterday. Dubbed as ‘Darb Al Saai’ (The Way of the Messenger), the event saw the wholehearted participation of contestants and spectators on the opening day. And it left a good impression on the visitors to the venue which had two stands specially erected for the occasion. Among the other attractions at the venue were recreated “Arabic” villages. One of the organisers said camel dressage meant much more than colourful attires. He described it as “the diversity of the desert’s own vehicle”. William Martin, the man behind the whole exercise said the first day’s competitions focused on the participants’ ability to saddle up on a camel. Also the competitors were expected to demonstrate how quickly and how perfectly they could perform the tasks under the watchful eyes of experienced caretakers, known as “Rayi” in Arabic. Points are awarded for both the perfection and swiftness involved in the job, said Martin whose UK-based firm William Martin Productions was the organiser of the event. Speaking to Gulf Times Martin and his wife Katie said what they intended to bring along with the event was the diversity of the animal, which they felt was missing in the region owing to the absence of an event of this kind. “Like in the desert festival of Pushkar in India’s Rajasthan, here stands an opportunity for Qatar to score and receive visitors by unfurling a new experiment,” said Katie. “The ambience and environs in Qatar very much favour the hosting of an event of this kind and the dressage event being the first of its kind could help the country attract tourists during this time of the year, if properly highlighted,” she felt. The second phase of competitions beginning today would provide more interest to spectators, according to the organisers. “Guiding the camels through specially created narrow spaces is among the obstacles today and it would continue tomorrow,” said Martin. Again camels need to scale similarly created uphill and downhill paths, he explained. After a day’s rest on Thursday, the camels will be taken out through a 52-km route to end their journey at the historically important Al Kharana deserts on the western side. “It was through the same route that the founder of Qatar Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani al-Thani was believed to have made his march before his eventual victory against Ottomans,” said Katie. Along with the Martin couple and their daughter Isabel Martin, Brendan Powell, Mark Rugg, and Liz Pattison were also involved in the organising of the festival, being held as a forerunner to the Qatar National Day celebrations on December 18. To the surprise of the spectators a handful of Argentine, Belgian, American and British women turned up to watch the proceedings. Argentine national Elena told she had come to watch camels dressed up in colourful attires. “In Argentina, we come across only tall Ilamas, some of which go up to 6ft and that’s all,” she said. Today’s was an altogether different experience for spectators like me. She and her daughter came all the way from Al Khor to watch the day’s events.