Al Dhafra Camel Festival (10th Edition) – 2016

It’s that time of year again!


The dates – 13th to 29th December 2016

Timings – normally something to see from 8am through to the evening – can sometimes stray a little from the published schedule

The place – 18kms south of Madinat Zayed, Western Region – GPS N23.54116 53.78865, or just set tell your Garmin to take you to the Tilal Liwa Hotel and you will pass right through the festival site!

The schedule


What’s to see and do

Camel beauty judging, camel beauty prizegiving (do NOT miss), saluki racing, sheep beauty competitions, camel milking competitions, traditional souq, camping shops galore, ATMOSPHERE!

What not to miss

Million Street

Get yourself over here and drive with the locals as they celebrate camel competition wins.  Impromptu parades, crazy driving (right and left side of the road), cars getting stuck at the side, camel herders riding their camels glued to their phones, much waving of flags – this is all outwith the expat’s normal comfort zone but the buzz is infectious and this could well be one of the UAE memories you hold in your heart forever

Dinner/staying at a camp

Last year there was a competition for the best camp and the local families really upped their game and created some amazing bedouin camps.  Drive round them and shout hello, ask if they had any winners that day, how things are etc etc.  You might be asked for coffee and if they like you then an invitation may be extended to dinner.  In fact dinner might just appear in front of you and you should eat something, it is rude to refuse (though if you have to be somewhere else, mara tania inshallah, next time inshallah, always goes down better than a straight no)

The prizegiving

Normally happening at the grandstand around 3.30pm-4pm, and often in the presence of a senior Sheikh, this is a little piece of magic.  When the winners are declared there is much cheering and then their family head down to the enclosure where they will often do a yollah dance, waving a huge “”key” (to signify the Nissan Patrol they have just won!), while they annoint their camels with saffron (in reality they use turmeric these days).

The atmosphere

Absolutely electric!  The mood is invariably upbeat, everyone is friendly and outgoing and their enthusiasm for all things Emirati is infectious!

Check out last year’s reports here





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