The Super Bowl of Camel Pageantry
Al Dhafra Festival is an annual event held each December near Madinat Zayed, southwest of Abu Dhabi. It’s the biggest camel festival in the UAE and draws people from across the region. Each year some 25,000 camels descend on the area. The festival promotes Emirati culture and heritage with Shela competitions and Saluki competitions. But camels are the main attraction.
The biggest event is the Bairaq or best herd competition. The person with the best 50 camels wins one million dirhams and a Nissan patrol. There are dozens of other camel beauty events as well. During the festival, a stretch of road near the fairgrounds turns into an open-air camel market where people buy and sell camels searching for the most beautiful ones. So much money is exchanged during the two-week festival that the road has been named “millions street.” Here’s an inside look at the super bowl of camel pageantry.