Camel racing is a deep-rooted traditional sport that finds its origins in the desert culture of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is a popular sport in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Australia, and Mongolia.
Camels, commonly referred to as "ships of the desert," have for thousands of years played a vital role in the region, influencing every aspect of daily life. Beyond providing transportation, food, and shelter, the camel also served as a means of entertainment, celebration, and competition on festivals and special occasions. Races would take place at such events, which were generally more for show than competition. Competitive races would typically take place as a result of a challenge among camel owners, therefore requiring preparation that differed from the show races.
For centuries, the desert way of life remained unchanging, which included the high socio-economic importance of the camel. With the oil boom, parts of the region transformed and many aspects of traditional life disappeared. The camel maintained its symbolic significance while technology replaced the practical need for the animal. With the advent of wealth, the affected nations were introduced to Western lifestyle, technology, and luxury. The force of such powerful changes caused the gradual disappearance of time-honored traditions and customs, which awakened a sense of urgency when people realized their proud and rich history was fading away. The importance of holding on to those traditions that characterized the spirit of the region was revived, which included camel racing.
As a result, camel racing became a very popular pastime, developing into a much more formalized and professional form of racing which includes specialized breeding, intensive training programs, and technique. The rise of camel racing's popularity can be seen as well in other parts of the world where the race has also begun to draw in sizeable crowds of spectators and influential patrons. The sport continues to grow and develop, spreading and gaining recognition in regions where camels are not generally common.