x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The complete meat

As a source of protein the benefits of camel meat are poorly understood, but recent regional efforts to change that are welcome.

The peoples of Arabia have long known the value of camels. Indeed, these sturdy "ships of the desert", which can carry heavy loads and survive long periods without food or water, were essential to travel and trade for many centuries, and have therefore contributed to the growth and strength of the Gulf nations.

The camel's hide can be tanned to make leathergoods, its milk is a sustaining beverage, and camel racing is a popular pastime. But the camel has not yet been fully exploited for its meat, which accounts for barely one-thousandth of all meat eaten worldwide.

As Ali Al Saloom noted in a recent column for The National, camel meat "tastes very tender and juicy, especially if the camel was slaughtered at a very young age". It is regarded as a "comfort food" or a treat for special occasions such as weddings, and it is low in fat.

As The National reports today, there has been a problem in finding the right process, and correct amount of time, to age the meat. An Omani scientist, Professor Isam Kadim, has done important research into this that could pave the way for commercial production of the meat.

While it may be a while before there's a camel burger joint in every mall, it's a sign that an animal that has been so much a part of the UAE's past will continue to be an important, and nourishing, part of its future.