I studied abroad this summer in the United Arab Emirates. It was an amazing trip and I learned a lot. However, one thing stuck with me. There are so many ways to use a camel. Firstly, camels were a source of transportation. Their legs were made to walk in the sand so that they did not sink and take more energy than needed. Camels are able to survive quite a long time without water, allowing them to travel vast distances. On a span of 8 hours camels are able to carry 150 kilograms. However, over exertion can kill them.
Each weekend the International Exchange Organization or IXO, would take us to different places to understand more about the culture. One place they took us had a great restaurant where we planned to eat for lunch. To my surprise, on the menu were camel burgers and if you got thirsty, camel milk shakes. While sadly I could not eat them because I have a gluten allergy, I was told they tasted just like chicken. On the bright side, I was able to try the camel milkshakes. They tasted just like normal milkshakes except they were thinner and the milk had more of a sour taste but still very good. I was surprised by how many people actually eat camel. It is not the most eaten meat in the Middle East, however there were a number of places that put them on their menu. It is not uncommon for cheese and butter to be made from camels also.
My friends and I had decided on a hot day, almost 120 degrees, to go swimming. When we arrived at the beach there was a man who was allowing people to ride the camel up and down the beach. I had wanted to do that, along with my friends, since I had arrived in UAE. How many people in America can say they have ridden a camel? Their fur feels like a horse but more coarse and a bit thicker. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that people used a camel’s fur to make cloth and blankets. Many Arabs use camel cloth for their clothing. Also, camel’s skin has been used as leather to make shoes, bags and saddles. The Arabs have used all of the camel’s body just as the Native Americans did with the buffalo. On other occasions, camel bones have been used to make jewelry and utensils. As a gift, I got my father a hand made blade that had the handle made out of camel bones. It goes to show many different things camels can be used for.
Lastly, I made some amazing friends during my time in the UAE. To my surprise, he one day took my friend and I to a camel racetrack. Yes, they actually race camels. What was very interesting is that camels can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000. Many times the Sheiks will attend the camel races and buy the winning camel. I unfortunately did not get to see the camel race but I have attached a video so you can see. Just like horses, camels are seen as prized creatures. While some are used for transportation and food, others are bred to race.
Reference: “People and Camels.” People and Camels. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.