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Meet Mahloul, an unconventional camel from day one

  |  November 11, 2013

The one on the left. Hamad Al Khatri and his brother stand beside Mahloul on her first birthday
The one on the left. Hamad Al Khatri and his brother stand beside Mahloul on her first birthday

This is a blog about camels. And one camel, who shines brighter than the others and, I hope, will run faster too.

Ladies and gentlemen, yakhees and oukhtis, meet Mahloul (above).

Mahloul made her appearance in the world head first.

She did it wrong. Camels, like cattle, are meant to come out of their mother feet first.

When Mahoul’s owner, Hamad Al Khatri, arrived at the farm after an emergency phone call from his brother, he found the mother pacing back and forth in obvious discomfort. Mahloul’s head and neck swung from her mother’s behind, gazing with quiet curiosity at her new world and quite oblivious to her mother’s pain or the fact that the rest of her body was supposed to exit her mother’s womb. The mother paced back and forth like a two-headed beast, imploring Hamad with her eyes to do something about the situation. She knew this was not how things were supposed to be done.

Five minutes earlier I was at the Ras Al Khaimah Suan track for the regular Friday races. My friend Hamad pulled up in his 4x4 and said casually, “Anna, my camel is being born. Do you want to see?”

“If is a girl we will name her after you,” he joked as we drove to the farm. This, I knew, would be decidedly inauspicious for the camel’s racetrack future. I run at the speed coral grows. If I were a camel, I’d be last in the race. Or maybe I’d be that confused camel making a U-turn mid-race.“Hamad,” I said. “Maybe you should name her something else?”

But before names could be decided he had to extract the baby from her mother.

Hamad and his brothers, all raised with camels, knew what to do. Hamad rolled up the sleeves of his kandora and eased Mahloul’s legs out in a few minutes. Forget the miracle of birth, more incredible was the fact that throughout the whole ordeal not a single speck of blood or dirt landed on Hamad’s kandora.

The lanky newborn towered on spindly legs, blinking her black lashes my way.

It was a girl. “We will call her Little Anna,” said Hamad.

We celebrated her birth with a bowl of warm, frothy milk. It was March, late in the season for her age group but she had the bloodline of a champion. We were confident in her race track career.

This year, we’ll find out. Mahloul celebrated her third birthday this year. In the camel world, this means one thing. Mahloul has come of age.