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United Arab Emirates: Al Ain Camel Market

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Al Ain Camel Market | United Arab Emirates | Asia

[Visited: March 2016]

When I heard about the camel market of Al Ain as being the most authentic of the United Arab Emirates, I was very much looking forward to seeing it. The camel races that are held here in winter were apparently not on the Friday I visited, so I headed straight to the camel market south of Al Ain. Just before the turnoff, I passed an Ikea store, and wondered if I was in the right area of the city? Then, I passed a slaughterhouse, which was a hint that I might be on the right track. Behind it, I found an extensive market place. Modern, open buildings with cows and goats on one side, and camels on the other. Time to get out and explore!

Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Men in white robes herding camels into one of the pens of the market

After having seen several camel markets in Africa and Asia, I soon realized I had never seen so many camels in one place before. Also, they came in all sizes, colours, and ages. Before I knew it, a man follows me, offering to show a baby camel. He tells me he is from Pakistan, his English is poor, but within minutes, I am looking at a small camel that can barely stand on its feet and that still has a white colour. The Pakistani assures me that it is "one days old"; if that is true, baby camels are already big at birth. Another Pakistani now joins me, and they show me a big male camel, looking fearfully strong, and another baby camel.

Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Camels drinking at one of the camel stalls of the market

There are more foreigners here: mostly Afghani men, who approach me, also offering to show me "baby camel". Instead, I just walk around, watching the camels being fed, the camels drink from big troughs, a truck with camels unloaded, the animals herded into their pen with others. I learn that the old camel market used to be located north of Al Ain; this is the new one, a lot less photogenic, all in uniform, open buildings. All the stands are surrounded by fences, making it harder to see the camels who are standing under a roof and most of the time, in the shadow. On old pictures, you can see how the camels were traded in the desert; now, the market has been integrated into the city.

Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Inside one of the pens: camel head and a group of camels
Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Head of a male camel at the camel market of Al Ain
Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Camel looking into the camera in one of the many pens at the market
Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Baby camel with her mother at the camel market of Al Ain
Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): One of the many pens with camels at the camel market
Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Camels at the camel market of Al Ain
Picture of Al Ain Camel Market (United Arab Emirates): Men chatting while waiting for customers at a camel sales point

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