Exceeding Expectations: Al-Ain Camel Market


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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Al Ain
December 24th 2014
Published: December 28th 2014
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There are some travel experiences that exceed the excitement, mystique and hopes of the wide-eyed traveler: the way one's breath is stolen upon first seeing the pyramids; the smallness one feels seeing animals roaming wild on safari; the marvel of wondering how ancient cultures ever survived when one sets foot in an oasis....those are all moments one never forgets.

Then there are those moments that fall far below expectations, the moments the travel books got all wrong. My dad and Will still laugh when they remember the plans for the great floating market in Thailand that ended up being two boats selling souvenirs and cheap plastic crap. Or the much anticipated Camel Market in Douz, Tunisia where there was literally one camel tied to a tree. Those instances make great stories, but never match the greatest of those unforgettable, grand moments.

I am almost giddy in the aftermath of one such great moment that far exceeded my expectations: the Camel Market in Al-Ain. Experiencing a camel market has been on my bucket list for some time. We drove past one in Egypt over 20 years ago, but did not stop. We planned our entire trip to Algeria/Tunisia to be in Douz on market day and found only sheep, goats, cattle and the like. So when we left our hotel this morning before the sun came up, there was a twinge of worry that we had trekked to an oasis in UAE for another "oh well, it makes for a great story moment." Not so.

Our day at the market was more than I could have ever dreamed. We pulled in at 7 am to find stall after stall filled with camels of every shape, color and age. We estimate between 2,500 and 3,000 camels were there. We found stalls and stalls of sheep, goats and even cattle. There were vendors selling hay, grain, feed bunks and everything else you might find at your local farm supply shop or Co-Op.

We spent the day walking from pen to pen exchanging pleasantries with the herdsmen and learning about camels. We met herdsmen from Afghanistan, Sudan, UAE and other places. We inspected hay shipped in from Sudan, Dubai and, were told, even from the USA. We watched transactions between sellers and buyers.

We earned some street cred when we pulled out photos of our camels. Once they got over
Dad Observing a Big SaleDad Observing a Big SaleDad Observing a Big Sale

This camel sale created a lot of buzz with the herdsmen in the area. We are not sure why, but we were in the middle of it all!
the shock of camels being in America and a woman tending to them, they were in awe of Shamrock Farms, especially the green grass. One herdsman described the ranch as "a jungle." Another asked if he could move with us. And they all got a chuckle when they asked "how much?" for Algiers and I explained "Never! He is my baby."


Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


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Dad and Kyle Hay ShoppingDad and Kyle Hay Shopping
Dad and Kyle Hay Shopping

This salesperson was explaining that some of the hay is shipped from USA. He showed us a bale of Timothy Hay.
Would Algiers Like This?Would Algiers Like This?
Would Algiers Like This?

We found shops selling camel tack and supplies. They also had supplies for racing camels and bling for show camels.
Would this fit Siwa?Would this fit Siwa?
Would this fit Siwa?

A lot of the local camels are smaller than Siwa, so it was difficult to find halters that would fit his big head. I used photos of him to show the shop owners. Many of them said they did not have any that would work.


28th December 2014

ADD MY email address
Then I can comment on your upcoming posts so that I do not get in trouble!!! Love you - Kyle
28th December 2014

Camels
How exciting!! The babies are too cute!! I'm so happy the market exceeded your expectations.
28th December 2014

Camels
How exciting!! The babies are too cute!! I'm so happy the market exceeded your expectations.
28th December 2014

Camels
How exciting!! The babies are too cute!! I'm so happy the market exceeded your expectations.
28th December 2014

New baby?
Fully expecting you to come back with a sibling for Algeirs!
28th December 2014

New baby?
Fully expecting you to come back with a sibling for Algeirs!
28th December 2014

New baby?
Fully expecting you to come back with a sibling for Algeirs!
28th December 2014
Common Al-Ain Market Scene

Camel jockey
And I thought my old mans butt looked bad. This sounds like you are really seeing a different world than most tourists. I didn't know you were a camel jockey. (I hope that comment is not a derogatory one). Are you going to have a big slide show when you get back? Oh oh do they even have slide shows? Power point or something like that? Joe
29th December 2014
Common Al-Ain Market Scene

Joe you are too funny!
Thanks for putting a smile on our faces with your comments! No slide show, but I'll keep sending blogs. There should be a lot more in the near future! I have more photos of camels than you can imagine...
29th December 2014

market
Now this place looks like a lot of fun. Bet you are in heaven!

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