UAE’S Camel Trek Marathon is a chance to explore culture
Expatriates in the UAE always find ways to explore the local culture and heritage through a wide spectrum of opportunities offered by government bodies. The UAE is a country that has an exceptional history, culture and heritage and these could be experienced in one single journey like ‘camel trekker’.
This was stated by Anna Aiko, 40, a Japanese expatriate from France who was one of the 13 trekkers who participated and experienced their own camel race as part of the Camel Trek Marathon and won second place.
Talking to the Gulf Today, she said, “I have been travelling since the age of five to explore the ‘silk road’. The journey of life has brought me to Dubai and have been shuttling between Japan, France and UAE. Last year I got an opportunity to ride camels and found a chance to be part of the famous ‘camel trek’. This gave me an opportunity to explore UAE deserts on camel backs from Empty Quarters, Abu Dhabi to Dubai along with other trekkers from different nationalities. The unique and memorable trek – 700-km covered in 26 days – part of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) initiative aimed to promote Bedouin lives and discover UAE heritage,” she said.
She was one of the 13 camel trekkers to experience her own camel race as part of the Camel Trek Marathon. The participants consist of various countries including China, Japan, Britain, Romania, Finland, United States of America, Germany, Armenia and UAE.
“Being experienced as a two-time came trekker in the UAE, the participation in the ‘camel marathon’ was purely an adventure.
She worked as art director for a prominent photographer working for prestige brands and famous celebrities from around the world. “Since five years ago I was starting travelling around the world to explore places, cultures and heritages to know more about the world in which we are living. Travelling along with other nationalities as part of the ‘camel trek’ I found a unique experience of culture exchange, knew about various nationalities and their history, arts and more,” she said.
Aiko reprised that in UAE they learned that the camel was one and only mode of travel from one place to another especially in the enormous deserts. This fascinated each and every participant especially expatriates .“last year while crossing empty quarters for the first time, I cried not for being afraid, but for travelling on the backs of camels as our ancestors did in the past and having the same experience,” she said. She was fascinated by the beauty of the dunes while the sun was setting on the horizon.
Meanwhile, the camel marathon was also attended by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, this second camel race was for one kilometre.
The cultural and heritage races were organised by HHC and held in Al Marmoum area in Dubai.
The participation of his highness sheikhh am dan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai at the second race lit up the faces of the participants as well as the audience who gathered to cheer their favourite participants.
Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook, CEO of HHC, said this year’s Camel Marathon was different from the previous years because of the preliminary races that boosted the level of competition coming into the 5th National Day Camel Marathon.
Camel riders above 30 years old got more training opportunities and became more familiar with the racetrack.
Bin Dalmook also thanked Sheikh Hamdan for his continued support to the promotion of heritage sports and added that not only the level of competition increased but the spirit of community sport was also elevated.
Rashid bin Markhan, HHC deputy CEO, added: “The prizes given to winners this year also increased and particpants to the 30th place will gain prize money.”
Ali Saeed Bin Saroud, Executive Director of the Dubai Camel Racing Club, for his part, thanked the HHC for the great cooperation in achieving the goals of the race and in gathering young people in boosting their knowledge on heritage sport.
Alexis from China finished in first place, followed closely by Japanese-french expat Anna Aiko in second place while Rabab Elguwiri from Finland came in third position. British expats Jodi Mercati and Shirley Wilkinson finished in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Sheikh mo hammed bin rash id bin mo ham med bin Rashid Al Maktoum honoured the 13 contestants with shields bearing the Center’s logo and in-kind prizes.