Camel riding is now official in Dubai after the opening of the first licensed school in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dedicated to teaching the popular pastime.
It can be traced back to the seventh century in the UAE, making it part of the country’s cultural heritage, but today only one school is licensed to teach the sport.
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Linda Krockenberger, said that she grew tired of taking solitary camel rides in 2021 and it pushed her to open the Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre, where she is not only a co-founder along with a local partner, but also a trainer.
“There are other places to ride, but usually they don't offer such an in-depth experience with the animal, or that people can come repeatedly, and they can build relationships with the animals…or that they can take their riding skills further from riding long distance, we did a track of 50 km in one day, to ride overnight and camp out in the desert or to ride in short races,” said Krockenberger.
“Riding involves a lot of body weight, for example going left or right, we only have one reign, so how we communicate and how we give directions, is a lot by shifting the weight of the rider, as well as using one singular rope as a stick to point,” added the German trainer.
Calling them “Gentle Giants,” camel riding trainer, Jana Schmiedel, said she feels proud every time she gets to ride.
“For me really, the fascinating thing is to have a connection with the camel, to really get to understand them, to be a team with them when riding, to listen to what they need in order to understand me and what I can give them in order for them to understand what is going,” added Schmiedel.
It was the first time for Michelle O’Malley, coming all the way from New Zealand, to see a camel ever. She decided to take on the new venture of learning camel riding with her young children.
For thousands of years the Arabian Peninsula has been home for the desert's giant species, which have been historically used for transport and as a source of survival. Nowadays, camels have become popular for racing in the UAE with prizes reaching thousands of dollars.
Making camel racing and riding accessible for all, co-owner, and co-founder of the centre, Obaid Al-Falasi, said they have been witnessing a rising number of women students.
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