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Camel racing becomes popular sport in Sudan

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(27 Mar 2017) LEADINCamel racing is becoming an increasingly popular sport in Sudan, thanks in part to sponsorship from the UAE.A new Sudanese camel racing federation now hopes to build more tracks and create a formal market for the selling and buying of racing camels. STORYLINEAttallah Ahmed tends to his camels. He's preparing them for their next big race, a pastime which is rapidly growing in popularity in Sudan.Camels have long been used as beasts of burden in Sudan, but would sometimes be used for racing during special occasions like holidays and weddings. But thanks to help from places like the United Arab Emirates it's becoming a more mainstream sport. The UAE government has sponsored a number of recent races in the country, and plans to fund more. "We have inherited the camel race from our ancestors, we do not know how long ago these races started, but it's been passed down from our ancestors until we inherited it. Before, we held these races for weddings and large events and feasts, each of us would come with his camel and we race along the way," says Attallah Ahmed.Later the race begins. It's a chaotic start, as camels jostle for a position. The camels run down a track, spurred on by robots that whip the animals to speeds of almost 60 kilometres per hour (roughly 40 miles per hour). As well as providing entertainment it's a way to preserve both the particular breed of camel that exists in Sudan, and also the tradition of breeding and raising them. "Sudan is a country rich in natural resources and has a large number of camels. Camels, in general, are divided into several strains around the world. There are camels for racing, there are camels for meat, there are camels for milk producing, and camels used for decorative purposes. And God be praised, Sudanese camels are of one of the best camel strains in the world. I expect this sport of camel racing will flourish in Sudan," says camel breeder Nasser Bin Quria.The recently established Sudanese camel racing federation hopes to build more tracks around the country, and create a formal market for the selling and buying of racing camels. Saad Al Omda is President of the Federation of Sudanese camels and says:"In Port Sudan, we've started a federation, and there is also one in North Kordofan and the north of the country. We plan to make sure each state has a modern racetrack. And God willing, we'll have an exchange market for camels for racing camels in Sudan."Camel races are also popular in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia and even Mongolia. It is a particular favourite in the Arabian Peninsula, where until recent years, children were used as jockeys. The practice was banned by the UAE government in 2002, after allegations were raised of abuse and human trafficking of the young boys who were employed by camel owners. Since then, the lighter robotic jockeys have spread across the region. Creating official venues for the sport will also help the government regulate and oversee the camel markets, supporters say. Camel trader Adam Ali says a tall camel with long legs is more desirable for racing and can fetch anywhere between 3,000 (450 US Dollars) and 5,000 (750 US Dollars) Sudanese pounds.You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/you... Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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AP Archive 4087955 1b382f320993baec14f31cf3053b60f9 MEEX Sudan Camels Khartoum Sudan North Africa Middle East United Arab Emirates Government and politics Business
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