Camel racing is as old as the two oldest bedouins with camels and a long stretch of desert turf. In the Roman accounts of Syria and the Hadramawt, there are mentions of horse and camel races as the sports du jour. Kidnapping children from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan is fairly new, I guess. I am sure other slaves from other climes filled this unspectactular role in times past. I further venture to guess that this news is welcome. Robots for children – and let us have a round of applause for the enlightenment sweeping across the Gulf region.
I hesitate to let out my full bile on the sub-human status of expats from South and East Asia in the Gulf. Anyone there can tell you about the muwattin [citizens] and the wafid [newcomer]. Suffice to say, that the oasis in the desert that is Dubai or Doha was watered by blood of these workers. And I mean that literally. With the barest of rights and at the mercy of the intemperate kafil [citizen-sponsor for every migrant], the migrant faces incredible racism and exploitation. The citizen gets everything – first – while open scorn [and physical violence] is reserved for those that are building the Burj al-Dubai. Rapes and abuse of housemaids; public beatings of drivers and sweepers and, even skilled professionals, by citizens are commonplace. The exploitation of maids, engineers, children and unskilled workers by the Gulf countries continues and will continue until they are able to unite and ask for rights. Bahrain is seeing some signs of such activity.
In trolling around for information on the current popularity of the sport, I happened across this gem of a website ["... Instead, check out the beauty of these magnificent camels running at full speed". indeed.]. There is a camel race in Nevada, natch.
update: Mental Mayhem, a Doha blog I usually enjoy, has a post about Camel racing that I find almost offensive in its naivete. Perhaps thats a bit harsh. So go see what a Day At the Camel Races looks like.