All camel racing takes place at the purpose-built racetrack just north of Sheehaniya, a 30-minute drive to the west of Doha on the Dukhan road. A visit provides a unique opportunity to observe this traditional sport and witness the local people in harmony with their surroundings.
Race season begins in October, when training programmes begin and minor races are held, culminating in several prestigious events in March and April.
As technology catches up with the “Sport of Sheikhs”, Qatar has begun using robot jockeys instead of human jockeys.
Robots jockeys are designed with titanium to look like humans equipped with electronic whips and are controlled from the touch lines by an armchair jockey manning a joystick and computer screen.
Beyond the track, a virtual “camel city” has sprung up, where thousands of men and camels live all year round, their numbers swelling considerably prior to a big event when owners, trainers and camels from other Gulf states move in for a few weeks.
Amid this patchwork of compounds, colorful strings of camel trains can be seen – their riders dressed in the timeless fashion of their ancestors, the camels covered with brightly patterned blankets and crocheted nosebags.