Qatar: Robotic Camel Jockeys
by Mary Ferreira
Doha, Qatar – Camel racing has been a popular sport for centuries in the Gulf region.
In most countries children were used as camel jockeys. But governments along with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, knew that it was dangerous work for children.
In 2005, children from several South East Asian countries were repatriated after a ban was implemented, prohibiting them from working as jockeys. Camel owners had to find a replacement to keep the sport alive. They turned to inventor, Rashed Ali, who came up with the idea of using robots. After several prototypes were developed, a robot weighing no more than three kilos, equipped with a thin whip, is getting the job done.
We were fortunate to cover several races in Doha – a spectacular moment as camels with colorful robots on their backs jostled for first place. Watch this short clip for a quick glimpse.