Dubai: A German expat in Dubai gave up her promising corporate career after she fell in love with came riding.
Linda Krockenberger became a jockey who went on to set up a camel riding centre.
Krockenberger came to the UAE nine years ago as an intern for a hotel in revenue management. She rose up the ranks and her last position was head of revenue for a private company.
But she decided to give it all up after an enriching experience of riding camels.
“I was looking at a recreational pursuit in my spare time away from work. I came across a camel riding training programme under the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre [HHC]. It was a 12-day came trek from the Empty Quarter in the Abu Dhabi region to the Global Village in Dubai. It is an annual trek that takes place. Usually there are many participants who apply for the trek, but a handful are accepted into the programme. I was lucky to be included the very first time I applied,” Krockenberger told Gulf News.
Connecting with heritage
Krockenberger said enrolling for the programme was her way of connecting more with Arabian heritage, in which camels play a prominent role.
“I was bowled over with my trek. Camels are a reflection of your inner personality. They are emotionally intelligent animals who respond to your stresses, emotions. They absorb it all and in return give you peace love and harmony.”
Following her 12-day trek, her interest in camel riding rose exponentially. “One thing led to another and I decided to give up my full time corporate career to follow my passion of camel riding,” Krockenberger said.
No looking back
In January 2021, Krockenberger set up the Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre with a partner on board in Al Lisaili on the Dubai-Al Ain Road.
“We are dedicated to train riders in the skills of camel riding and handling, following traditional forms of riding and modern adaptation, incorporating aspects of animal welfare, education and, of course, Arab hospitality.”
She added: “The centre is open for male and female riders. We however, we only train female riders for camel races. The reason we focus on women riders for the races is because we want to empower them with all necessary skill sets and help them drop their fears to take up a pursuit that is otherwise dominated by male riders.”
Krockenberger said last year the centre saw a growth in number of registrations. “We had 1,200 classes booked. That is an average of three classes a day last year. When we started, we had four camels. Today we have grown to 14 camels, two camel grooms, one trainer, one guest services.”
Only male camels
Krockenberger said the camels are all male. “The female camels are usually taken up for breeding programmes. Our camels are retired racing animals or those could not run fast enough. Having said that, these are well trained camels who are healthy with a strong endurance.”
About Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre
Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre was established on April 6, 2013 under the decree No. 1 for the year 2013 issued by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. The annual Camel Trek organised by the Centre is a test of endurance and a showcase of individual courage. The success of its first edition in 2014 paved the way for more demand from residents who took up the challenge to relive the old ways of life in the UAE.