A market for camel lovers

Huddled modestly in the Lisaili area next to the Dubai Camel Racing Club on Dubai-Al Ain Road with desert dunes all around, the Dubai Camel Market is a bustling space with 160 shops in 32 buildings.

By Deepa Narwani

Published: Sat 18 Jun 2011, 11:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:35 AM

It is the working and living space of around 1,000 workers in the larger burgeoning camel heritage industry. Signboards of a camel and an overhead tent show way to the market.

A stroll through the market reveals a multitude of faces, ethnic dresses, languages and cooking smells. Shop workers are surrounded by a plethora of camel accessories which spill over on the pavements, while truck drivers unload bales of fresh fodder. Nearby, trains of camels make their way for their daily practice. The adult camels can be seen wearing brightly coloured woven nose cones. The market is ideal for camel riders to buy and sell these racing animals.

Ali Musafir Trading sells handmade colourful accessories for camels. Mohammed Noor, the shopkeeper said: “Previously, the camel market was located in Nad Al Sheba, but it has been shifted to this area before two years. We sell blankets, shidad (cloth kept on the humps), nets and other decorative items for camels.”

He said that it is a retail shop and doesn’t sell by the dozen. Prices vary for the items from Dh50 to Dh70.

“People from Qatar and Saudi Arabia come to the market on weekends. Tourists from USA and Europe also come and they always buy some souvenir from here. We get the raw materials from India and Pakistan and make the items in the shop,” said Mohammed.

The tiny shops are packed with colourful camel blankets, canes and handmade reins and ornaments. Some of the tassels are sewn around fragrant bits of clove. The market particularly specialises in products such as camel fodder, medications and accessories like ropes, blankets, canes and camel jockey outfits.

Ghulam Hassan, working at a dikka shop (camel fodder) said: “We sell zorra (wheat), bajra and other grains for camels and chickens. The summer season is very dull and only a handful of people come and purchase foodstuff.”

The market’s car park is full of rickety old trucks, padded with carpet, used to transport the camels. The area is dusty, noisy, pungent and chaotic from 7am to 11am everyday. It is open throughout the week from 7am to 10pm and closes for lunch from 1pm to 3pm.

Abdulla Kutait Restaurant is a small cafeteria in the vicinity. Suleman, the attendant said: “Very few people come here compared to the Nad Al Sheba market. When this market started, we had two cafeterias but we had to shut one down as not many people come here.”

Shops in the area also include a branch of Dubai Islamic Bank, tailoring shops selling perfumes, gents’ salon, veterinary clinics, grocery shops selling blankets and trolley bags, mobile shops, typing centres and dates trading among others. There is also a Dubai Municipality Waste Management office in the market, and a mosque. Mamjouh Abdul of the Dana Veterinary Clinic said: “Due to the location of the market, very few people visit and the business is not that good. Lots of Omani farmers and people from Qatar and Saudi Arabia come during September to March.” The shop sells gastric relief formula, vaccinations and other necessary medicines.

The camel market is a wonderful testament to the ancient Arabic culture and is a must visit to understand the camel heritage of the UAE. It is best to visit it early morning to get a glimpse of how the shopkeepers set up the market and see the camels being adorned with accessories or lining up for a mock race.


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