Al Niyadat Camel Market

Al Niyadat
Al Ain

Al Niyadat Camel Market

Farm AnimalsFarmers/Local MarketTraditional Way of LifeTraditional Neighborhood


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The lively, bustling market provides an opportunity to hear traders extolling the merits of their prized animals, discussing prices and negotiating sales. Many of these are merchants and shepherds from the Al Rashaidah tribes of Sudan, the Sultanate of Oman and Pakistan.

In 2003 the population of camels in the UAE was over 178,000 - an increase of some 134,000 animals in just ten years, largely owing to the availability of better fodder and improved health care.

The camel has always played an important economic role in Arabian life. An Arab’s wealth was often assessed on the basis of how many camels he owned. The payment of zakat (the portion of a Muslim’s personal wealth which must be given for the relief of the poor and needy) was frequently paid in camels instead of money; a bride’s dowry could be similarly calculated. In effect, the camel was an alternative currency.

Camels have helped humans cope with the harsh environment of the desert since ancient times. They are ideally suited to the desert, patiently enduring intense heat and displaying extraordinary speed and stamina over great distances. They are notable for surviving long periods without drinking and, since they can tolerate a wide range of body temperatures, lose little water through sweat. The Bedouins treated them as friends and loyal companions, especially on long, solitary journeys: food and water for the camel was always given priority over sustenance for its master! As well as being beasts of burden, camels were a source of food and drink (their milk is highly nutritious), and their wool was used in weaving rugs, pillows and clothes.

Camel meat, tasting rather like sweet mutton, is still eaten at festive gatherings, where the hump is considered a special delicacy. Camel skin was traditionally used to make shoes, bags and water containers. Sometimes it was also used to make musical instruments.

Nowadays, camels are used mainly in traditional sports and many camel races and contests are held all over the country. The UAE is renowned for its Arab thoroughbred animals, some of the best known breeds being dhabian,shtoota and misk.

The close relationship developed over many centuries between Arabs and their camels has given these extraordinary animals a special place in the culture and heritage of the UAE. Modern development may have greatly reshaped the country’s profile, but the traditional dependence on and respect for the camel can still be appreciated in the open-air theatre of the camel market.

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