Monday, November 21, 2011

Ultimate UAE Experience

   I know it has been a while since the last post and I apologize. It gets crazy here!!

This past weekend I had the ultimate UAE experience since being here. This weekend was the Gayathi Beautiful Camel Festival. The town of Gayathi is in the Western Region and is known for its labor camps and desert filled with camel farms. It is not uncommon for many students to be absent due to selling of their camels.. which can sell for up to 6 million dirhams which is about 2million dollars...

Emiratis come from all over the country to showcase their camels. They dress their camels up in sparkly shawls and necklaces and drapings.

A group of friends and I showed up on Friday evening around 430pm only to find that the show was done for the day. Disappointed and ready to go home, an Emirati gentleman named Mohammed came over to us and invited us into a tent behind the bleachers to have tea. We met the head of the media and many pictures were taken. We were then told to get into SUVs and we were taken out into the desert beyond the stadium and to a family's tent. We were welcomed with open arms and smiling children! We were invited for coffee, tea and dates and conversation. They were thrilled to have Westerners be a part of such an important aspect of their heritage. We were then brought to see their camels and got to take pictures and interact with them. The men were so hospitable and welcoming it was amazing! Even the children were excited to see us and show off their English skills!

The next day, Saturday, we returned to the festival to witness the actual showing of the beautiful camels. When we arrived our friend Mohammed found us and brought us into the main ring in front of the audience. We got to walk around, meet many of the camel owners, and see the camels all dressed up up close and personal!! It was amazing! No other spectators are allowed in the gates!! We were told that they allowed Westerners because they want us to learn and experience their culture and traditions that are so important to them. We were the only Westerners and the only women!!!

This was an amazing experience both days. Words will not be able to describe the weekend!! Pictures help a little bit!

My name in Arabic: شانون