Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2015/2016

Camel Beauty

How I learned to stop worring and love the camels.

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Every December, Arab men from around the Middle East, accompanied with their top prized camels, travel to Al Dhafra in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to take a part in various competitions, beauty contests, races and other events. Al Dhafra Camel Festival is the biggest camel gathering in the world and lasts for a full month.

Above The Million Street, Al Dhafra 2016

The Million Street

Place where the things happen.

A wide desert road called 'The Million Street' is surrounded with numerous visitor's tents on nearby dunes, with small shops, restaurants and majlises. It's an arrival spot for caravans, celebrating or just showing off place between main events of the Festival. Couple of times per day it gets crowded with camels followed by trucks and many other cars packed with people and sound systems on, parading up and down the street all together.

Above Sandy road in the middle of the desert, The Million Street, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Caravan arrival, Al Dhafra 2016
Above People gathering to welcome the newest arrival, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Arrival of caravans is a great matter of things for kids too, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Street Sellers selling traditional sticks, The Million Street, Al Dhafra 2016
Above The Million Street details, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Father and Son, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Sleepy snack, Al Dhafra 2016

Early morning beauty

Entering the competition area.

With the first sunlight camel owners, followed by their camels and camel handlers are queueing at the gates for judging area. Almost a silent atmosphere with a lot of expectation in the air.

Above Baby camels are usualy accompanying their mother camels in order to lower their stress, Al Dhafra 2016
Above All eyes on camels, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Great expectations, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Desert Fashion, Al Dhafra 2016
Above The judging area doors are closed, last look at the camels before going to the grandstands, Al Dhafra 2016
Above View from the grandstands, Camel Beauty Contest judging has started. Cars on the right are some of the prizes for winners, Al Dhafra 2016

Camel Beauty Competition

Meanwhile at the grandstands with fans.

Camel owners surrounded with families, kids, friends and fans are cheering for their camels while anxiously wait for results to be announced.

Above Full stands with fans, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Camel Beauty Contest fans, Al Dhafra 2015
Above Winner's walk, Al Dhafra 2015
Above Left One of the winning camels, Above Right Winning dance, owners and fans celebrating victory of their camel, Al Dhafra 2015
Above Owners of winning camels, traditional singing and dancing, Al Dhafra 2015
Above Calling off the competition day, Al Dhafra 2015
Above One of winning camels. Black color camels are Saudi breed and usually much bigger than locals, Al Dhafra 2015
Above Peaking into judging area, Al Dhafra 2016

Behind the Scenes

Camel handlers on break.

While the main crowd is already at the grandstands, camel handlers are having a break with the rest of the camel hurd behind the competition area. Some of them, curious to see what is going on in the judging area, are peaking through the holes in the fence.

Above Camel handler peaking through the fence, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Camel handlers and street sellers peaking through the fence, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Camel handler, Al Dhafra 2016
Above Camel handlers are having a break next to their herd, Al Dhafra 2016
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