KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Fatima Aldood Mahdi became the first Sudanese woman to launch a camel race, a move viewed with admiration from camel herders and sportsmen.
The event was organized at Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan Square in the Abujeera area, East Nile Locality in Khartoum North, Monday by al-Gharair Sporting Club Fatima heads.
Fatima said ‘her club’s first annual camel race’ was held in honor of her father, a descendant of Alsheikh Hassaballa, one of the commanders of the Mahdi’s Army that liberated Sudan from the Turko-Egyptian rule (1885-1899).
Racers from all over the Sudan’s camel producing districts took part in the contest, which was graced by the Chieftain of Shukriyya, one of the famous camel-owning Sudanese tribes, Ahmed Abusin.
The winning champion was awarded with the historical sword of Fatima’s grandfather. Other winners received varying prizes.
In an address, Fatima said camel herders, though neglected by the defunct regime, yet they lived a life of desert hardship and struggle in a bid to boost the economy with a vast wealth of livestock.
“We view camels as a national wealth that needs promotion in terms of both variety and productivity,” she said.
“We also look forward for the launch of a complete camel race sporting-tourist city to boost camel racing in the Sudan,” she hoped.
Camel racing is an old culture in the Sudan when the public used to organize it in wedding, circumcision and religious festivities. Then the sport turned into official contests when traders became aware of the high quality of Sudanese camels and started to attend racing events to buy the winning camels at high prices and export them to Arabia where the sport is very popular.
Sudan is the world’s second camel producer, after Somalia, and Sudanese race camels receive increasing demand on the World market.
Camel racing is a popular sport in Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Pakistan, Mongolia and Australia.
Professional camel racing, like horse racing, is an event for betting.
It is also a tourist attraction.
Camels can run at speeds up to 65 km/h (18 m/s; 40 mph) in short sprints and they can maintain a speed of 40 km/h (11 m/s; 25 mph) for an hour.
In Sudan camels in a race are controlled by experienced adult jockeys.
However, in some countries camels in the race are often controlled by child jockeys. Pressure from human rights groups had led the practice to be run using remote controlled robotic whips to spur the race camels on.
A major camel race is the Camel Cup held at Allice Springs which is the second biggest prize purse camel race in Australia. It is held annually and includes not only the camel races themselves, but also a collection of market stalls and other sorts of entertainment.
The biggest prize money camel race in Australia is "The Boulia desert Sands" with a $500,000 prize purse in Queensland.
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