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TRADITIONAL SPORTS  
   
Camel Racing
 
Camels are said to be God's gift to the Bedouin. The Bedouin offer their animals food, water and shelter. Their camels provide transportation, food and clothing in return.
 
Traditionally races were organized between the individual emirates. For example camels belonging to the ruler of Dubai would race the camels of the ruler of Sharjah. At that time no official race tracks were available, and the camels used to run for about three to five km.
 
Camels can be trained either by their owners or by professional trainers. Camels are trained for three months.  In addition they should be exercised by walking and galloping. This exercise should be supplemented with a special diet of oats, bran, dates and cows' milk. The amount of food should be reduced before the race to ensure the camel is in peak racing condition. In the past the diet only consisted of the grass and leaves available in the area.
 
Any camel is ready to race at about three years of age. Male camels end their racing careers at the age of five or six, whereas females can carry on racing for a few years longer.
 
The race jockey should be young and light in weight to ensure the maximum speed of the camel.
 
The highlight of the season comes in April when a major two-day event is held in Abu Dhabi and camel owners and camel racing fans are invited to attend from throughout the Arabian peninsula. Another important day for camel racing is the 2nd of December, the national day of the UAE.
 
In the past the winners of the races received prizes of items which were important in their everyday life, such as clothes, food and even goats. Nowadays cars, trophies and cash are presented.