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Published: December 31st 2014
Every afternoon around 4:30 or 5:00 pm the honking starts and so does the yelling. People are shaking camel sticks out of their car windows. All activity comes to a stand still with no plans of moving any time soon. Cars are at a standstill and so are the caravans of award-winning camel beauties. Everyone knows it will happen, but no one can predict how long it will last.
The welcomed chaos can be heard from far away and there is no denying what is happening. It is not your typical big city rush hour. In the desert, particularly during the Al Dhafra Camel Festival, it is party time.
The Million Street, which runs near the grandstands, turns into a traffic jam of celebrations and sheer joy. The winning camels leave the grandstand for the day, led onto the road by guide camels, and they are met with Bedouin style happiness.
The air is filled with the sounds of horns honking, men singing, children yelling, music for traditional dancing and the occassional backfiring of vehicles. The smell of saffron is thick and sweet.
The camels are surrounded by SUVs with men hanging out the windows shaking their
swords or camel sticks and excited teens standing through the sun-roof filming the party with their cell phones.
Sometimes the beautiful beasts are fully surrounded by the men of the family as they sing, dance and sway. Other times, they are penned in by an unorganized circle of cars. Whatever the scene, be assured it is fully occupied by men of all ages, never a female in sight.
Passerbys will stop to see who won the new cars and herdsmen leading their own caravan home may join the festivities because they have no choice. The festivities swell to cover the entire road and often spilling over into the soft sand along the roadway.
Camels with big cardboard keys on their backs and big SUVs co-exist in a moment of exhilaration.
The camels seem less amused by the SUVs and the noisy celebration, but the simple irony is the camel and her infinite beauty are what earned her family yet another SUV to join in the Million Street madness.
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