chapter  4
18 Pages

Dubai: global city and transnational hub

WithRoland Marchal

In the pre-oil days, camel races were held in small local communities on festive social occasions such as religious holidays, weddings, circumcisions, or the visit of a prominent shaykh. These informal events were characterized by a relaxed set of rules, and performances varied according to the locality. From the mid-1980s, however, the situation changed radically as camel racing became a way of reasserting bedouin culture against global values and praising the leadership of the United Arab Emirates. Since the mid-1990s, more than 4,000 camels have been taking part in the finals of the camel-racing season at Nid al-Shiba track in Dubai and in al-Wathbah outside the city of Abu Dhabi. Some of the racing camels are selected for transportation to other Gulf countries to participate in more races.