Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

UAE camel trainers prefer robot jockeys

Robots are more efficient and help the animals run faster, trainers say.

ABU DHABI // Robot jockeys that work by means of a voice-activated remote control are the way ahead, or at least the best way to the finishing line, according to two camel trainers who have been utilising the technology.

Abdelqader Omar, 38, and Ali Ibrahim, 27, both from Sudan, have been working with camels for more than a decade and they said human jockeys cannot compete with their robotic counterparts.

“The robots are much better,” Mr Ibrahim said. “They are lighter and so the camels go faster and there are no risks. If it gets damaged then it’s just a robot so it doesn’t matter.”

The camel trainers use a voice-activated remote control during the race to determine how the robot rides.

“We start with slow strokes and as the camel nears the finishing line we will make the strokes go faster and harder,” Mr Omar said of the robots, which cost between Dh1,000 and Dh2,000.

Another reason that the robots are better than human riders, said Mr Omar, is that they do not harm the animals.

The scars on one of his oldest camels were caused by a child jockey, he said.

The human jockeys would whip the camels, usually at the lower front right and left side of the abdomen. Often this would cause injury and scarring. The pain would cause the camel to stop altogether, refusing to finish the race, Mr Omar said.

“Robots strokes only hit the upper left backside of the camel and are less painful.

“They don’t injure the camel.”

In 2005, the UAE passed a law banning the use of children under the age of 18 as jockeys in racing events.


More on camel racing and trade in the UAE:

■ Special report: Summer signals camel racing season for Emirati owners

■ Former camel jockey fears being sent away from his Dubai family

■ Camels not just a hobby for Dubai’s bin Loomya clan

Updated: June 13, 2015 04:00 AM