by adam rasmi in


A camel foams at the mouth as he is whipped by a robot jockey during a race at Nad al-Sheba on December 6, 2006 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy Chris Jackson/Getty Images) 

A camel foams at the mouth as he is whipped by a robot jockey during a race at Nad al-Sheba on December 6, 2006 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy Chris Jackson/Getty Images) 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—A late-afternoon sandstorm had descended on the Al Marmoom racetrack, some 40 kilometers outside of Dubai, and dust swirled everywhere. But even with the harsh desert weather, the races went ahead as planned.

The camels—many of them owned by the royal families of the United Arab Emirates—galloped along a five-kilometer track, with the fastest ones zipping past the finish line, like clockwork, on or near the 7:40 mark. Stamped with electronic chips for identification, the animals are presented by their owners, along with parentage certificates specifying their breed and age, before every race. Afterwards, the top three finishers are taken to a nearby center to test for doping—routine fare for Dubai’s multimillion-dollar camel racing industry.

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