x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Dh10m on a camel 'not very unusual'

A record breaking Dh350m changed hands at this year's Al Dhafra Camel Festival.

ABU DHABI // The offer of Dh20 million (US$5.4m) was, the trader thought, a more than generous price to secure the camel that caught his eye. Not according to its owner, who rejected the price as far too low for his prized beast. With these sorts of sums being bandied around, it was little wonder that a record breaking Dh350m changed hands at this year's Al Dhafra Camel Festival, organisers said. One particularly handsome dromedary fetched more than Dh10m.

The 10-day festival, which ended this week, was hailed a tremendous success, with 100 camels sold. The event itself, held at Madinat Zayed, in Al Gharbia, formerly known as the Western Region, made more money this year than either of its first two years. "I didn't expect participation of such large scale and momentum," said Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region. The festival, he said, "has earned the UAE and its citizens a good reputation inside and outside the country as organisers of the world's largest camel beauty competition".

Salem al Mazrouei, one of the organisers, said money was no object for some. "Spending Dh10m on a camel is not something very unusual," he said. "This was the most successful camel festival we have had in the UAE and in the whole region." In addition to the animal market, the festival had dozens of events including a camel beauty contest, known as Camel Mazayen, and competitions to find the best camel meat and milk.

Two camel breeders, Hamdan Ghanem al Falahi and Rashid Ali al Mansouri, were each presented with Dh1m cash prizes after their animals won first prize in the Asyel and Majaheem camel breed categories, respectively. Mr al Falahi was also reported to be the buyer who paid the Dh10million price tag, but this could not be confirmed by the organisers. More than 1,200 owners registered to attend the festival, bringing with them 23,000 camels, competing for Dh42m in prizes and cash.

The festival is organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and is intended both to preserve elements of UAE heritage and serve as a tourist attraction.