August 18, 1997 in Nation/World

Camels’ Racing Debut Checkered

From Staff And Wire Reports

Billed as Europe’s first camel races, the Sheik Zayed Cup was more of a sideshow than a competition among the hump-backed contestants, some of which were more interested in running in circles or eating than crossing the finish line Sunday.

About 40,000 Germans were on hand at a harness-racing track on the outskirts of Berlin, where a pack of 12 camels bolted from the starting line then disappeared around a curve.

Moments later, one camel suddenly popped back around - ignoring the embarrassed German jockey clinging desperately to its single hump - and charged back across the starting line. Along the way, the camel passed a rival running in circles.

Despite the antics, the race appeared to be a hit for “the camel connection,” a group of businessmen and government officials from the United Arab Emirates and Germany - including German economics minister Guenter Rexrodt - seeking to promote business contacts.

“It’s about promoting friendship between the two countries - nothing else,” said Salem Alsaaedi, who was among the United Arab Emirates delegation besieged by German businessmen in a VIP lounge.

Camel-racing in Arab countries long ago shed its origins as a form of entertainment for Bedouins at wedding parties and was legalized as a sport 42 years ago.

Get stories like this in a free daily email

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus