Dubai: The annual UAE National Day Camel Marathon, organised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC), witnessed the first-ever participation of Emirati women camel riders at Dubai Camel Racing Club’s Al Marmoom Race Track today.
Khawla Al Balooshi, 28, participated in the 18-29 age category, while Hakima Ghaith, 38, took part in the above-30 group. Both of them had successfully completed the 4km preliminary camel race last month that saw both male and female UAE nationals in the competition.
Al Balooshi, a government employee, wore the No 1 jersey during the race. She said: “I thank HHC for motivating us and providing us with this opportunity to participate in a race that I consider is a very wonderful experience. I am very happy to be one of the first Emirati women to participate in an official camel race in the UAE.”
Al Balooshi works as a senior analyst at the Department of Economic Development in Dubai. She holds a master’s degree in the field of Environment and International Development. She will also take part in the upcoming 8th Camel Trek that will kick-off on December 9. The annual desert voyage, which will see participation from 17 countries (including four Emirati camel trekkers) will run for 13 days, starting on December 9 from Liwa Empty Quarters in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. The 30 camel trekkers will navigate 500km of UAE desert to enjoy a unique desert experience that will familiarise them with the old ways of Bedouins, until they reach their final destination at the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
Excellent Emirati women
Ghaith, for her part, said her participation in the annual camel marathon proved that Emirati women can excel in all fields, including heritage sports. She learned to ride a camel at an early age and has become a confident camel racer. She said: “In my daily life, I work in the field of aviation as a ground employee. This type of heritage sports gives me a lot of positive energy.”
HHC CEO Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the participants in the camel marathon. He said: “We are very proud of our community traditions and the participation of two Emirati women for the first time in an official camel race confirms our endeavours to make heritage sports available to all members of society and to all nationalities residing in the UAE.”
The UAE National Day Camel Marathon is in line with the country’s celebrations of the 50th National Day. The two preliminary races were also organised by HHC, with the main marathon set to be held on January 14, in conjunction with the Arabian Camel Festival, to be held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council.