Where To Experience Camel Races in Dubai – 2023-24 Race Calendar

by Dubai Travel Planner

If there’s one sporting event that surely sparks the curiosity of visitors and binds together the local people of UAE across all emirates, it is the traditional sport of camel racing.

There isn’t anything quite like being able to watch trained race camels mounted with robotic jockeys racing at speeds of around 65km an hour along the desert tracks.

What is Camel Racing?

Camel racing goes back many centuries when Middle-Eastern people of the local population would get together during festivals and events such as weddings to take part in this folk sport. Similar to horse racing, camels would compete against each other by running along a predetermined track.

On the day of the camel race, anywhere between 15-60 camels can be competing with each other for trophies and prize money. Camels adorned in bright colours stand behind the gates at the start line and sprint as soon as the gates fling open.

There’s excitement in the air as you hear the crowds cheering for these camels sprinting with their necks bobbing into a fog of sand. Their trainers follow them closely in their SUVs, driving around the race track and giving instructions through robotic jockeys sitting on top of the camels. Races typically last up to 15 minutes, which is then followed by the award ceremony.

Camel racing in Dubai draws in large crowds and promises to be an excellent tourist attraction. The races taking place in the UAE even include traditional customs, rituals and folklore during the entire day of racing to evoke the customs of the region amongst visitors and tourists.

A Traditional UAE Sporting Event

The connection that Emiratis have with camels has been long-rooted. Not only were these animals used as modes of transport across the vast deserts, but they were also a reliable source of food and milk for the locals. They have been used for trading and, as mentioned before, taking part in sporting events.

The camel racing events that we see now in UAE preserve the rich Emirati cultural values and reflect the region’s traditions.

While the love for camel racing prevails, there are some things that have changed significantly over time. With the opportunity for the winning camels to walk away with cash prizes worth millions of dirhams, this internationally recognised sport has led to the rise of facilities for camel training, breeding, and research.

close up of a camels face at Al marmoom camel racing track in Dubai

Nowadays, techniques such as special artificial insemination and embryo transfer techniques are used for crossbreeding select lineages and raising camels that are meant for the racing track. Careful attention is given to their training and nutrition in order to prepare racing camels for competition.

In the UAE, under the strict guidelines of the Emirates Camel Racing Federation, local governments encourage breeding programs and even provide subsidies to camel owners and breeders.

Safe Practices With Robotic Jockeys

In 2002, the UAE outlawed any child jockeys riding the camels and welcomed lightweight robotic jockeys instead. The basic structure of these robotic jockeys comprises a metal frame and a cordless power drill attached to a whip that encourages the camel to run faster without causing any hurt.

These robots are decorated in the colours of the team and placed on moulded metal saddles that go on the camel during a race.

A camel with an electronic jockey

Advancement in technology has allowed some trainers to add on extra features to their jockeys without compromising on the weight that may slow down the camel. These features include a GPS to locate the camel’s location, a walkie-talkie allowing the trainer to speak to the camel and a heart rate monitor to keep track of the camel’s health.

When is Camel Racing Season in Dubai?

The Dubai camel racing season typically takes place during the cooler winter season, from October to March, at the different camel racing tracks across the country.

Races will likely occur early mornings, around 6:30 AM to 10:00 AM, usually on weekends. The Dubai races also run during the week for certain events.

What began as an informal sport quickly became an international racing event recognised across a global platform. The camel racing festivals held in UAE under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Dubai’s Crown Prince and the Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, bring together thousands of camel owners and race enthusiasts from across the UAE as well as the other Middle Eastern regions.

Where to Attend Camel Racing Dubai 2023-24

Camel races are free to attend; however, because every year it draws in large crowds, it is advisable to book seats beforehand. Come in early on race day and have the opportunity to take pictures with the camels too.

In Dubai, the largest track is the Al Marmoon Camel Racing Track, situated near the Al Marmoum Heritage Village, which is a half-hour drive on the Al Ain road towards Oman. It hosts annual camel races as part of the country’s heritage festival – Al Marmoom Heritage Festival (NB, not held since COVID).

Xamels practising at the Al Marmoom track - Dubai Racing Club
Camels being trained on the track at Al Marmoon race track, Dubai

Up-to-date information on Dubai camel races and upcoming events, especially at the Al Marmoon Camel race track, can be found on the Dubai Camel Racing Club website or by emailing them, info@dcrc.ae.

The Winter 2023-24 season has already commenced – if you are interested in times for the Dubai Crown Prince Camel Racing Festival, you can find these dates and times on their events page. If you’re trying to pick the best day, the “Tribesman” days are the louder, more exciting days to attend, though any of the days will give you a unique and exciting experience.

You can find the exact location of the DCRC track in Al Marmoom here:

Camels That Race in Dubai

All the camels you’ll find in the UAE are dromedary (single hump) camels.

If you see races classified as Haqaqa (Hukayif), Laqaiya (Laqaya), Izaah, Thnaya and Holoul, this refers to the camel racing category, defined by the camels’ age.

Other Camel Racing UAE

In addition to Al Marmoom, other camel racing tracks are present across the UAE, including:

  • Al Wathba race track in Abu Dhabi for Abu Dhabi camel racing
  • Al Sawan race track in Ras Al Khaimah
  • Al Dhaid race track in Sharjah
  • Al Tallah racecourse in Ajman
  • Al Lebsa race track in Umm Al Quwain

You will also find camel racing as part of the annual Al Dhafra Festival, held in the Abu Dhabi Western Region each winter. This is the country’s largest heritage festival event, and its cornerstone event, the Camel Mazayna, draws huge international interest. The main festival grounds in Madinat Zayed are approximately 3 hours from Dubai.

If you’ve not been lucky enough to catch an actual UAE camel race, you may still get the opportunity around any of these tracks to go camel spotting and get some snaps of them training throughout the year, though for obvious reasons, the winter months are best.

More Camel Experiences in Dubai

A visit to Dubai is incomplete without a picture of you with a camel. And there is more than one spot for you to grab that perfect shot with the ship of the desert. You can choose to get one while riding a camel at the beachfront of The Beach JBR, against the backdrop of Palm Jumeirah, on a desert safari, or while feeding the camels at The Camel Farm.

Dubai Camel on JBR The Beach
If you’re looking for the easiest place to ride & be photographed with a camel, head to The Beach JBR

More Frequently Asked Questions About Camel Racing In Dubai

What is camel racing in the UAE?

Camel racing is an internationally recognised traditional sport that involves well-bred and trained camels mounted with robotic jockeys running around the camel race track, with the winning camel fetching prizes worth millions of dirhams.

Where can I watch camel racing in Dubai?

There are a few different venues of different size tracks all around UAE. However, the largest and most popular is the Al Marmoon Camel Racing Track of Dubai. Do note racing is seasonal, so you need to wait for the cooler days of winter to catch the racing in action. In summer, you can head along early and catch a glimpse of trainers putting camels through their paces.

What is the largest camel racing track in Dubai?

The largest track is the Al Marmoon Camel Racing Track of Dubai, located on the outskirts of the city.

How fast can a camel run?

Some of the fastest racing camels can run up to 65 km/h.

Are camels faster than horses?

Generally, camels are slower than horses, but trained camels on a desert track can run just as fast as a racehorse.

Where is camel racing popular?

Camel racing is an important part of the traditional culture passed down the generations for many Middle Eastern Arab countries. Therefore, it is a sport that is popular in these countries, including UAE.

Can you bet on camel racing in Dubai?

The emirate prohibits all forms of gambling under Article 414 of the UAE Penal Code. 

How much does a racing camel cost in Dubai?

Camels can be purchased at auctions and start from about AED 350,000 (approx USD 95,000), depending on the camel breed. Winning camels come at an even higher price with bids starting in millions of dollars.

What else is there to do in Al Marmoom?

This unique desert area of the city is often overlooked by guests to Dubai, but there’s plenty more than first meets the eye. Check out our guide to the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve for more information.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai


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